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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Aug;1757(8):1035-46. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

Combined DFT and electrostatics study of the proton pumping mechanism in cytochrome c oxidase.

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1
Department of Chemistry, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Abstract

Cytochrome c oxidase is a redox-driven proton pump which converts atmospheric oxygen to water and couples the oxygen reduction reaction to the creation of a membrane proton gradient. The structure of the enzyme has been solved; however, the mechanism of proton pumping is still poorly understood. Recent calculations from this group indicate that one of the histidine ligands of enzyme's CuB center, His291, may play the role of the pumping element. In this paper, we report on the results of calculations that combined first principles DFT and continuum electrostatics to evaluate the energetics of the key energy generating step of the model-the transfer of the chemical proton to the binuclear center of the enzyme, where the hydroxyl group is converted to water, and the concerted expulsion of the proton from delta-nitrogen of His291 ligand of CuB center. We show that the energy generated in this step is sufficient to push a proton against an electrochemical membrane gradient of about 200 mV. We have also re-calculated the pKa of His291 for an extended model in which the whole Fe(a3)-CuB center with their ligands is treated by DFT. Two different DFT functionals (B3LYP and PBE0), and various dielectric models of the protein have been used in an attempt to estimate potential errors of the calculations. Although current methods of calculations do not allow unambiguous predictions of energetics in proteins within few pKa units, as required in this case, the present calculation provides further support for the proposed His291 model of CcO pump and makes a specific prediction that could be targeted in the experimental test.

PMID:
16458251
DOI:
10.1016/j.bbabio.2005.12.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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