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Oxidation number for carbon

The degree of oxidation of carbon atoms in organic molecules depends on the covalent structure. In proteins, the average oxidation state of carbon (ZC) can be calculated as an elemental ratio from the chemical formula. To investigate oxidation-reduction (redox) patterns, groups of proteins from different subcellular locations and phylogenetic divisions were selected for comparison. Extracellular proteins of yeast have a relatively high oxidation state of carbon, corresponding with oxidizing conditions outside of the cell. However, an inverse relationship between ZC and redox potential occurs between the endoplasmic reticulum and cytoplasm; this trend is interpreted as resulting from overall coupling of protein turnover to the formation of a lower glutathione redox potential in the cytoplasm. In Rubisco homologues, lower ZC tends to occur in organisms with higher optimal growth temperature, and there are broad changes in ZC in whole-genome protein compositions in microbes from different environments. Energetic costs calculated from thermodynamic models suggest that thermophilic organisms exhibit molecular adaptation to not only high temperature but also the reducing nature of many hydrothermal fluids. A view of protein metabolism that depends on the chemical conditions of cells and environments raises new questions linking biochemical processes to changes on evolutionary timescales.

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