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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 21;101(51):17675-80. Epub 2004 Dec 7.

Protein engineering of cytochrome b562 for quinone binding and light-induced electron transfer.

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Photobioenergetics Research Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.


The central photochemical reaction in photosystem II of green algae and plants and the reaction center of some photosynthetic bacteria involves a one-electron transfer from a light-activated chlorin complex to a bound quinone molecule. Through protein engineering, we have been able to modify a protein to mimic this reaction. A unique quinone-binding site was engineered into the Escherichia coli cytochrome b(562) by introducing a cysteine within the hydrophobic interior of the protein. Various quinones, such as p-benzoquinone and 2,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-1,4-benzoquinone, were then covalently attached to the protein through a cysteine sulfur addition reaction to the quinone ring. The cysteine placement was designed to bind the quinone approximately 10 A from the edge of the bound porphyrin. Fluorescence measurements confirmed that the bound hydroquinone is incorporated toward the protein's hydrophobic interior and is partially solvent-shielded. The bound quinones remain redox-active and can be oxidized and rereduced in a two-electron process at neutral pH. The semiquinone can be generated at high pH by a one-electron reduction, and the midpoint potential of this can be adjusted by approximately 500 mV by binding different quinones to the protein. The heme-binding site of the modified cytochrome was then reconstituted with the chlorophyll analogue zinc chlorin e(6). By using EPR and fast optical techniques, we show that, in the various chlorin-protein-quinone complexes, light-induced electron transfer can occur from the chlorin to the bound oxidized quinone but not the hydroquinone, with electron transfer rates in the order of 10(8) s(-1).

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