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J Am Chem Soc. 2003 Jan 8;125(1):243-51.

Kinetic isotope effects for concerted multiple proton transfer: a direct dynamics study of an active-site model of carbonic anhydrase II.

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Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0R6.


The rate constant of the reaction catalyzed by the enzyme carbonic anhydrase II, which removes carbon dioxide from body fluids, is calculated for a model of the active site. The rate-determining step is proton transfer from a zinc-bound water molecule to a histidine residue via a bridge of two or more water molecules. The structure of the active site is known from X-ray studies except for the number and location of the water molecules. Model calculations are reported for a system of 58 atoms including a four-coordinated zinc ion connected to a methylimidazole molecule by a chain of two waters, constrained to reproduce the size of the active site. The structure and vibrational force field are calculated by an approximate density functional treatment of the proton-transfer step at the Self-Consistent-Charge Density Functional Tight Binding (SCC-DFTB) level. A single transition state is found indicating concerted triple proton transfer. Direct-dynamics calculations for proton and deuteron transfer and combinations thereof, based on the Approximate Instanton Method and on Variational Transition State Theory with Tunneling Corrections, are in fair agreement and yield rates that are considerably higher and kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) that are somewhat higher than experiment. Classical rate constants obtained from Transition State Theory are smaller than the quantum values but the corresponding KIEs are five times larger. For multiple proton transfer along water bridges classical KIEs are shown to be generally larger than quantum KIEs, which invalidates the standard method to distinguish tunneling and over-barrier transfer. In the present case, a three-way comparison of classical and quantum results with the observed data is necessary to conclude that proton transfer along the bridge proceeds by tunneling. The results suggest that the two-water bridge is present in low concentrations but makes a substantial contribution to proton transport because of its high efficiency. Bridging structures containing more water molecules may have lower energies but are expected to be less efficient. The observed exponential dependence of the KIEs on the deuterium concentration in H(2)O/D(2)O mixtures implies concerted transfer and thus rules out substantial contributions from structures that lead to stepwise transfer via solvated hydronium ions, which presumably dominate proton transfer in less efficient carbonic anhydrase isozymes.

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