Elucidating the role of the proximal cysteine hydrogen-bonding network in ferric cytochrome P450cam and corresponding mutants using magnetic circular dichroism spectroscopy

Mary Grace I. Galinato, Tatyana Spolitak, David P. Ballou, Nicolai Lehnert

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54 Scopus citations


Although extensive research has been performed on various cytochrome P450s, especially Cyt P450cam, there is much to be learned about the mechanism of how its functional unit, a heme b ligated by an axial cysteine, is finely tuned for catalysis by its second coordination sphere. Here we study how the hydrogen-bonding network affects the proximal cysteine and the Fe-S(Cys) bond in ferric Cyt P450cam. This is accomplished using low-temperature magnetic circular dichroism (MCD) spectroscopy on wild-type (wt) Cyt P450cam and on the mutants Q360P (pure ferric high-spin at low temperature) and L358P where the "Cys pocket" has been altered (by removing amino acids involved in the hydrogen-bonding network), and Y96W (pure ferric low-spin). The MCD spectrum of Q360P reveals fourteen electronic transitions between 15200 and 31050 cm -1. Variable-temperature variable-field (VTVH) saturation curves were used to determine the polarizations of these electronic transitions with respect to in-plane (xy) and out-of-plane (z) polarization relative to the heme. The polarizations, oscillator strengths, and TD-DFT calculations were then used to assign the observed electronic transitions. In the lower energy region, prominent bands at 15909 and 16919 cm-1 correspond to porphyrin (P) → Fe charge transfer (CT) transitions. The band at 17881 cm-1 has distinct sulfur S(π)→Fe CT contributions. The Q band is observed as a pseudo A-term (derivative shape) at 18604 and 19539 cm-1. In the case of the Soret band, the negative component of the expected pseudo A-term is split into two features due to mixing with another π→π* and potentially a P → Fe CT excited state. The resulting three features are observed at 23731, 24859, and 25618 cm-1. Most importantly, the broad, prominent band at 28570 cm-1 is assigned to the S(σ) → Fe CT transition, whose intensity is generated through a multitude of CT transitions with strong iron character. For wt, Q360P, and L358P, this band occurs at 28724, 28570, and 28620 cm-1, respectively. The small shift of this feature upon altering the hydrogen bonds to the proximal cysteine indicates that the role of the Cys pocket is not primarily for electronic fine-tuning of the sulfur donor strength but is more for stabilizing the proximal thiolate against external reactants (NO, O2, H 3O+), and for properly positioning cysteine to coordinate to the iron center. This aspect is discussed in detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1069
Number of pages17
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 15 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry


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