Electronic structure of the Mn-cofactor of modified bacterial reaction centers measured by electron paramagnetic resonance and electron spin echo envelope modulation spectroscopies

A. A. Tufts, M. Flores, T. L. Olson, J. C. Williams, J. P. Allen

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The electronic structure of a Mn(II) ion bound to highly oxidizing reaction centers of Rhodobacter sphaeroides was studied in a mutant modified to possess a metal binding site at a location comparable to the Mn4Ca cluster of photosystem II. The Mn-binding site of the previously described mutant, M2, contains three carboxylates and one His at the binding site (Thielges et al., Biochemistry 44:389-7394, 2005). The redox-active Mn-cofactor was characterized using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and electron spin echo envelope modulation (ESEEM) spectroscopies. In the light without bound metal, the Mn-binding mutants showed an EPR spectrum characteristic of the oxidized bacteriochlorophyll dimer and reduced quinone whose intensity was significantly reduced due to the diminished quantum yield of charge separation in the mutant compared to wild type. In the presence of the metal and in the dark, the EPR spectrum measured at the X-band frequency of 9.4 GHz showed a distinctive spin 5/2 Mn(II) signal consisting of 16 lines associated with both allowed and forbidden transitions. Upon illumination, the amplitude of the spectrum is decreased by over 80 % due to oxidation of the metal upon electron transfer to the oxidized bacteriochlorophyll dimer. The EPR spectrum of the Mn-cofactor was also measured at the Q-band frequency of 34 GHz and was better resolved as the signal was composed of the six allowed electronic transitions with only minor contributions from other transitions. A fit of the Q-band EPR spectrum shows that the Mn-cofactor is a high spin Mn(II) species (S = 5/2) that is six-coordinated with an isotropic g-value of 2.0006, a weak zero-field splitting and E/D ratio of approximately 1/3. The ESEEM experiments showed the presence of one 14N coordinating the Mn-cofactor. The nitrogen atom is assigned to a His by comparing our ESEEM results to those previously reported for Mn(II) ions bound to other proteins and on the basis of the X-ray structure of the M2 mutant that shows the presence of only one His, residue M193, that can coordinate the Mn-cofactor. Together, the data allow the electronic structure and coordination environment of the designed Mn-cofactor in the modified reaction centers to be characterized in detail and compared to those observed in other proteins with Mn-cofactors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-220
Number of pages14
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Magnetic resonance
  • Metalloproteins
  • Oxygenic photosynthesis
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photosystem II
  • Purple bacteria
  • Water oxidizing complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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