To clarify how the location of distal histidine affects the activation process of H2O2 by heme proteins, we have characterized reactions with H2O2 for the L29H/H64L and F43H/H64L mutants of sperm whale myoglobin (Mb), designed to locate the histidine farther from the heme iron. Whereas the L29H/H64L double substitution retarded the reaction with H2O2, an 11-fold rate increase versus wild-type Mb was observed for the F43H/H64L mutant. The V(max) values for 1-electron oxidations by the myoglobins correlate well with the varied reactivities with H2O2. The functions of the distal histidine as a general acid-base catalyst were examined based on the reactions with cumene hydroperoxide and cyanide, and only the histidine in F43H/H64L Mb was suggested to facilitate heterolysis of the peroxide bond. The x-ray crystal structures of the mutants confirmed that the distal histidines in F43H/H64L Mb and peroxidase are similar in distance heme iron, whereas the distal histidine in L29H/H64L Mb is located too far to enhance heterolysis. Our results indicate that the proper positioning of the distal histidine is essential for the activation of H2O2 by heme enzymes.
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