Two new intermediates are described which form in the dark as precursors to the light-induced assembly of the photosynthetic water oxidation complex (WOC) from the inorganic components. Mn2+ binds to the apo-WOC-PSII protein in the absence of calcium at a high-affinity site. By using a hydrophobic chelator to remove Mn2+ and Ca2+ from the WOC and nonspecific Fe3+, a new EPR signal becomes visible upon binding of Mn2+ to this site, characterized by six-line 55Mn hyperfine structure (ΔH(pp) = 96 ± 1 G) and effective g = 8.3. These features indicate a high-spin electronic ground state (S = 5/2) for Mn2+ and a strong ligand field with large anisotropy. This signal is eliminated if excess Ca2+ or Mg2+ is present. A second Mn2+ EPR signal forms in place of this signal upon addition of Ca2+ in the dark. The yield of this Ca-induced Mn signal is optimum at a ratio of 2 Mn/PSII, and saturates with increasing [Ca2+] ≤ 8 mmM, exhibiting a calcium dissociation constant of K(D) = 1.4 mM. The EPR signal of the Ca- induced Mn center at 25 K is asymmetric with major g value of ≃2.04 (ΔH(pp) = 380 G) and a shoulder near g ≃ 3.1. It also exhibits resolved 35Mn hyperfine splitting with separation ΔH(pp) = 42-45 G. These spectral features are diagnostic of a variety of weakly interacting Mn2(II,II) pairs with electronic spins that are magnetic dipolar coupled in the range of intermanganese separations 4.1 ± 0.4 Å and commonly associated with one or two carboxylate bridges. The calcium requirement for induction of the Mn2(II,II) signal matches the value observed for steady-state O2 evolution (Michaelis constant, K(M) 1.4 mM), and for light-induced assembly of the WOC by photoactivation. The Ca-induced Mn2(II,II) center is a more efficient electron donor to the photooxidized tyrosine radical, Tyrz+, than is the mononuclear Mn center present in the absence of Ca2+. The Ca-induced Mn2(II,II) signal serves as a precursor for photoactivation of the functional WOC and is abolished by the presence of Mg2+. Formation of the Mn2(II,II) EPR signal by addition of Ca2+ correlates with reduction of flash-induced catalase activity, indicating that calcium modulates the accessibility or reactivity of the Mn2(II,II) core with H2O2. We propose that calcium organizes the binding site for Mn ions in the apo-WOC protein and may even interact directly with the Mn2(II,II) pair via solvent or protein-derived bridging ligands.
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