A mechanistic and structural model for the formation and reactivity of a MnV=O species in photosynthetic water oxidation

Julian Limburg, Veronika A. Szalai, Gary W. Brudvig

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146 Citations (Scopus)


Photosynthetic water oxidation is carried out by a tetranuclear Mn cluster contained in the membrane-bound protein complex photosystem II (PSII). The mechanism of PSII catalysed water oxidation is unknown; however, several current models invoke a high-valent Mn=O species as a key intermediate in O-O bond formation. In part, these proposals are based on biophysical studies of the protein which suggest that the redox-active tyrosine residue, Yz, abstracts hydrogen atoms directly from substrate water molecules bound to the Mn4 cluster. In this paper, we consider organic oxidation and O-O bond-forming reactions catalysed by biomimetic Mn and Ru model complexes that are believed to proceed via M=O intermediates. We also interpret biophysical data concerning the roles of Ca2+ and Cl- in photosynthetic water oxidation, proposing that they are involved in a hydrogen-bonded network between the Mn4 cluster and Yz. Connecting the observed reactivities of model complexes containing M=O groups to spectroscopic information on the environment of the Mn4 cluster in the protein leads us to favour an O-O bond-forming step in photosynthetic water oxidation that occurs through nucleophilic attack of a calcium-bound hydroxide ligand on the electrophilic oxygen atom of a Mn=O intermediate. In addition, a new role for Cl- is proposed in which Cl- tunes the nucleophilicity of the calcium-bound hydroxide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1353-1361
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Chemical Society - Dalton Transactions
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 7 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)

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