Ab initio determination of the crystal structure of cytochrome c6 and comparison with plastocyanin

C. Frazão, CM M. Soares, MA A. Carrondo, E. Pohl, Z. Dauter, KS S. Wilson, M. Hervés, JA A. Navarro, MA A. De la Rosa, GM M. Sheldrick

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129 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Electron transfer between cytochrome f and photosystem I (PSI) can be accomplished by the heme-containing protein cytochrome c6 or by the copper-containing protein plastocyanin. Higher plants use plastocyanin as the only electron donor to PSI, whereas most green algae and cyanobacteria can use either, with similar kinetics, depending on the copper concentration in the culture medium. Results We report here the determination of the structure of cytochrome c6 from the green alga Monoraphidium braunii. Synchrotron X-ray data with an effective resolution of 1.2 å and the presence of one iron and three sulfur atoms enabled, possibly for the first time, the determination of an unknown protein structure by ab initio methods. Anisotropic refinement was accompanied by a decrease in the 'free' R value of over 7%; the anisotropic motion is concentrated at the termini and between residues 38 and 53. The heme geometry is in very good agreement with a new set of heme distances derived from the structures of small molecules. This is probably the most precise structure of a heme protein to date. Conclusion On the basis of this cytochrome c6 structure, we have calculated potential electron transfer pathways and made comparisons with similar analyses for plastocyanin. Electron transfer between the copper redox center of plastocyanin to PSI and from cytochrome f is believed to involve two sites on the protein. In contrast, cytochrome c6 may well use just one electron transfer site, close to the heme unit, in its corresponding reactions with the same two redox partners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1159-1169
Number of pages11
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995


  • ab initio structure solution
  • anisotropic refinement
  • crystal structure
  • cytochrome
  • electron transfer


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