Relationship between the oxidation potential and electron spin density of the primary electron donor in reaction centers from Rhodobacter sphaeroides

K. Artz, J. C. Williams, J. P. Allen, F. Lendzian, J. Rautter, W. Lubitz

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The primary electron donor in bacterial reaction centers is a dimer of bacteriochlorophyll a molecules, labeled L or M based on their proximity to the symmetry-related protein subunits. The electronic structure of the bacteriochlorophyll dimer was probed by introducing small systematic variations in the bacteriochlorophyll-protein interactions by a series of site-directed mutations that replaced residue Leu M160 with histidine, tyrosine, glutamic acid, glutamine, aspartic acid, asparagine, lysine, and serine. The midpoint potentials for oxidation of the dimer in the mutants showed an almost continuous increase up to ≃60 mV compared with wild type. The spin density distribution of the unpaired electron in the cation radical state of the dimer was determined by electron-nuclear-nuclear triple resonance spectroscopy in solution. The ratio of the spin density on the L side of the dimer to the M side varied from ≃2:1 to ≃5:1 in the mutants compared with ≃2:1 for wild type. The correlation between the midpoint potential and spin density distribution was described using a simple molecular orbital model, in which the major effect of the mutations is assumed to be a change in the energy of the M half of the dimer, providing estimates for the coupling and energy levels of the orbitals in the dimer. These results demonstrate that the midpoint potential can be fine-tuned by electrostatic interactions with amino acids near the dimer and show that the properties of the electronic structure of a donor or acceptor in a protein complex can be directly related to functional properties such as the oxidation-reduction midpoint potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13582-13587
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - Dec 9 1997


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