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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Mar;1767(3):204-21. Epub 2007 Jan 31.

Redox-linked protonation state changes in cytochrome bc1 identified by Poisson-Boltzmann electrostatics calculations.

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  • 1Structural Biology/Bioinformatics Group, University of Bayreuth, Germany.


Cytochrome bc(1) is a major component of biological energy conversion that exploits an energetically favourable redox reaction to generate a transmembrane proton gradient. Since the mechanistic details of the coupling of redox and protonation reactions in the active sites are largely unresolved, we have identified residues that undergo redox-linked protonation state changes. Structure-based Poisson-Boltzmann/Monte Carlo titration calculations have been performed for completely reduced and completely oxidised cytochrome bc(1). Different crystallographically observed conformations of Glu272 and surrounding residues of the cytochrome b subunit in cytochrome bc(1) from Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been considered in the calculations. Coenzyme Q (CoQ) has been modelled into the CoQ oxidation site (Q(o)-site). Our results indicate that both conformational and protonation state changes of Glu272 of cytochrome b may contribute to the postulated gating of CoQ oxidation. The Rieske iron-sulphur cluster could be shown to undergo redox-linked protonation state changes of its histidine ligands in the structural context of the CoQ-bound Q(o)-site. The proton acceptor role of the CoQ ligands in the CoQ reduction site (Q(i)-site) is supported by our results. A modified path for proton uptake towards the Q(i)-site features a cluster of conserved lysine residues in the cytochrome b (Lys228) and cytochrome c(1) subunits (Lys288, Lys289, Lys296). The cardiolipin molecule bound close to the Q(i)-site stabilises protons in this cluster of lysine residues.

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