Unveiling the details of electron transfer in multicenter redox proteins

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Metalloproteins modulate the intrinsic properties of transition metals to achieve controlled catalysis, electron transfer, or structural stabilization. Those performing electron transport, redox proteins, are a diverse class of proteins with central roles in numerous metabolic and signaling pathways, including respiration and photosynthesis. Many redox proteins have applications in industry, especially biotechnology, making them the focus of intense research. Redox proteins may contain one or multiple redox centers of the same or a different type. The complexity of proteins with multiple redox centers makes it difficult to establish a detailed molecular mechanism for their activity. Thermodynamic and kinetic information can be interpreted using the molecular structure to elucidate the protein's functional mechanism.This Account reviews experimental strategies developed in recent years to determine the detailed thermodynamic properties of multicenter redox proteins and their kinetic properties during interactions with redox partners. These strategies allow the discrimination of thermodynamic and kinetic properties of each individual redox center. The thermodynamic characterization of the redox transitions results from the combined analysis of data from NMR and UV-visible spectroscopy. Meanwhile, the kinetic characterization of intermolecular electron transfer comes from stopped-flow spectrophotometry. We illustrate an application of these strategies to a particular redox protein, the small tetraheme cytochrome from the periplasmic space of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. This protein is a convenient prototype for developing methods for the detailed analysis of multicenter electron transfer proteins because hemes have strong UV-visible absorption bands and because heme resonances have exquisite discrimination in NMR spectra. Nonetheless, the methods are fully generalizable.Ultimately, this Account highlights the relevance of detailed characterization of the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of redox proteins. These properties are responsible for the directionality and specificity of the electron transfer process in bioenergetic pathways; a more thorough characterization of these properties should allow better-designed proteins for industrial applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2014


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