Glutamate Mediates Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer between Tyrosines 730 and 731 in Escherichia coli Ribonucleotide Reductase

Clorice R. Reinhardt, Elvira R. Sayfutyarova, Jiayun Zhong, Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

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12 Scopus citations


Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is an essential enzyme in DNA synthesis for all living organisms. It reduces ribonucleotides to the corresponding deoxyribonucleotides by a reversible radical transfer mechanism. The active form of E. coli Ia RNR is composed of two subunits, α and β, which form an active asymmetric α2β2 complex. The radical transfer pathway involves a series of proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) reactions spanning α and β over 32 Å. Herein, quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical free energy simulations of PCET between tyrosine residues Y730 and Y731 are performed on the recently solved cryo-EM structure of the active α2β2 complex, which includes a pre-turnover α/β pair with an ordered PCET pathway and a post-turnover α′/β′ pair. The free energy surfaces in both the pre- A nd post-turnover states are computed. According to the simulations, forward radical transfer from Y731 to Y730 is thermodynamically favored in the pre-turnover state, and backward radical transfer is favored in the post-turnover state, consistent with the reversible mechanism. E623, a glutamate residue that is near these tyrosines only in the pre-turnover state, is discovered to play a key role in facilitating forward radical transfer by thermodynamically stabilizing the radical on Y730 through hydrogen-bonding and electrostatic interactions and lowering the free energy barrier via a proton relay mechanism. Introduction of fluorinated Y731 exhibits expected thermodynamic trends without altering the basic mechanism. These simulations suggest that E623 influences the directionality of PCET between Y731 and Y730 and predict that mutation of E623 will impact catalysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6054-6059
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 28 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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