Pigment-protein interactions in bacterial reaction centers and their influence on oxidation potential and spin density distribution of the primary donor

Frank Müh, Friedhelm Lendzian, Mason Roy, Jo Ann C. Williams, James P. Allen, Wolfgang Lubitz

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53 Scopus citations


To study the specific influence of the protein environment in bacterial photosynthetic reaction centers on the oxidation potential and the spin density distribution of the primary electron donor (P), a dimer of the two bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) a molecules PL and PM, site-directed mutants at positions L131 and M160 near the 131-keto groups of the BChls were constructed, in which the native Leu residue was exchanged to either Ser, Asn, Asp, Gln, Glu, or His. In addition, each mutation at one position was combined with the change of Leu to His at the respective other position. For each series of mutants the P/P.+ oxidation potential Vox was determined by electrochemical methods and related to the spin density distribution ρLM of the unpaired electron of P.+ between PL and PM as determined by ENDOR/TRIPLE resonance spectroscopy. The model by Artz et al. (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 1997, 94, 13582-13587) was revised, extended, and applied to the four series of mutants. Despite its simple nature, the model is able to reproduce the observed related changes of Vox and ρLM as a result of hydrogen bonding to the 131-keto group of one dimer half and allows for reasonable estimates of orbital energy shifts due to pigment-protein interactions when long-range effects and electron-phonon coupling are considered. On the basis of this model, a hydrogen bond from His to the 131-keto group stabilizes the HOMO of BChl a by approximately 100 meV, which is in reasonable agreement with other experimental data. The electronic coupling between the dimer halves is on the order of 120 to 160 meV, and the reorganization energy associated with a complete charge transfer from PL to PM is between 100 and 200 meV in keeping with earlier estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3226-3236
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 28 2002
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

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