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J Am Chem Soc. 2008 Apr 16;130(15):5194-205. doi: 10.1021/ja7102668. Epub 2008 Mar 19.

Perturbations to the geometric and electronic structure of the CuA site: factors that influence delocalization and their contributions to electron transfer.

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Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Using a combination of electronic spectroscopies and DFT calculations, the effect of pH perturbation on the geometric and electronic structure of the CuA site has been defined. Descriptions are developed for high pH (pH = 7) and low pH (pH = 4) forms of CuA azurin and its H120A mutant which address the discrepancies concerning the extent of delocalization indicated by multifrequency EPR and ENDOR data (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005, 127, 7274; Biophys. J. 2002, 82, 2758). Our resonance Raman and MCD spectra demonstrate that the low pH and H120A mutant forms are essentially identical and are the perturbed forms of the completely delocalized high pH CuA site. However, in going from high pH to low pH, a seven-line hyperfine coupling pattern associated with complete delocalization of the electron (S = 1/2) over two Cu coppers (I(Cu) = 3/2) changes into a four-line pattern reflecting apparent localization. DFT calculations show that the unpaired electron is delocalized in the low pH form and reveal that its four-line hyperfine pattern results from the large EPR spectral effects of approximately 1% 4s orbital contribution of one Cu to the ground-state spin wave function upon protonative loss of its His ligand. The contribution of the Cu-Cu interaction to electron delocalization in this low symmetry protein site is evaluated, and the possible functional significance of the pH-dependent transition in regulating proton-coupled electron transfer in cytochrome c oxidase is discussed.

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