The influence of amino acid substitutions at position M214 (M-subunit, residue 214) on the rate and pathway of electron transfer involving the bacteriopheophytin cofactor, HA, in a bacterial photosynthetic reaction center has been explored in a series of Rhodobacter sphaeroides mutants. The M214 leucine (L) residue of the wild type was replaced with histidine (H), glutamine (Q), and asparagine (N), creating the mutants M214LH, M214LQ, and M214LN, respectively. As has been reported previously for M214LH, each of these mutations resulted in a bacteriochlorophyll molecule in place of a bacteriopheophytin in the HA pocket, forming so-called β-type mutants (in which the HA cofactor is called βA). In addition, these mutations changed the properties of the surrounding protein environment in terms of charge distribution and the amino acid side chain volume. Electron transfer reactions from the excited primary donor P to the acceptor QA were characterized using ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopic techniques. Similar to that of the previously characterized M214LH (β mutant), the strong energetic mixing of the P+BA - and P+βA - states (the mixed anion is denoted I-) increased the rate of charge recombination between P+ and I- in competition with the I- → QA forward reaction. This reduced the overall yield of charge separation forming the P+QA - state. While the kinetics of the primary electron transfer forming P+I- were essentially identical in all three β mutants, the rates of the βA - (I-) → QA electron transfer in M214LQ and M214LH were very similar but quite different from that of the M214LN mutant. The observed yield changes and the differences in kinetics are correlated more closely with the volume of the mutated amino acid than with their charge characteristics. These results are consistent with those of previous studies of a series of M214 mutants with different sizes of amino acid side chains that did not alter the HA cofactor composition [Pan, J., et al. (2013) J. Phys. Chem. B 117, 7179-7189]. Both studies indicate that protein relaxation in this region of the reaction center plays a key role in stabilizing charge-separated states involving the HA or βA cofactor. The effect is particularly pronounced for reactions occurring on time scales of tens and hundreds of picoseconds (forward transfer to the QA and charge recombination).
ASJC Scopus subject areas