Modeling and computations of the intramolecular electron transfer process in the two-heme protein cytochrome c4

Renat R. Natzmutdinov, Michael D. Bronshtein, Tamara T. Zinkicheva, Qijin Chi, Jingdong Zhang, Jens Ulstrup

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The di-heme protein Pseudomonas stutzeri cytochrome c4 (cyt c4) has emerged as a useful model for studying long-range protein electron transfer (ET). Recent experimental observations have shown a dramatically different pattern of intramolecular ET between the two heme groups in different local environments. Intramolecular ET in homogeneous solution is too slow (>10 s) to be detected but fast (ms–μs) intramolecular ET in an electrochemical environment has recently been achieved by controlling the molecular orientation of the protein assembled on a gold electrode surface. In this work we have performed computational modeling of the intramolecular ET process by a combination of density functional theory (DFT) and quantum mechanical charge transfer theory to disclose reasons for this difference. We first address the electronic structures of the model heme core with histidine and methionine axial ligands in both low- and high-spin states by structure-optimized DFT. The computations enable estimating the intramolecular reorganization energy of the ET process for different combinations of low- and high-spin heme couples. Environmental reorganization free energies, work terms (‘‘gating’’) and driving force were determined using dielectric continuum models. We then calculated the electronic transmission coefficient of the intramolecular ET rate using perturbation theory combined with the electronic wave functions determined by the DFT calculations for different heme group orientations and Fe–Fe separations.
The reactivity of low- and high-spin heme groups was notably different. The ET rate is exceedingly low for the crystallographic equilibrium orientation but increases by several orders of magnitude for thermally accessible non-equilibrium configurations. Deprotonation of the propionate carboxyl group was also found to enhance the ET rate significantly. The results are discussed in relation to the observed surface immobilization effect and support the notion of conformationally gated ET.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Pages (from-to)5953-5965
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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