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Annu Rev Biochem. 2009;78:673-99. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.78.080207.092132.

Proton-coupled electron transfer in biology: results from synergistic studies in natural and model systems.

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Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institutes of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, USA.


Proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) underpins energy conversion in biology. PCET may occur with the unidirectional or bidirectional transfer of a proton and electron and may proceed synchronously or asynchronously. To illustrate the role of PCET in biology, this review presents complementary biological and model systems that explore PCET in electron transfer (ET) through hydrogen bonds [azurin as compared to donor-acceptor (D-A) hydrogen-bonded networks], the activation of C-H bonds [alcohol dehydrogenase and soybean lipoxygenase (SLO) as compared to Fe(III) metal complexes], and the generation and transport of amino acid radicals [photosystem II (PSII) and ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) as compared to tyrosine-modified photoactive Re(I) and Ru(II) complexes]. In providing these comparisons, the fundamental principles of PCET in biology are illustrated in a tangible way.

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