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1.  CO Rebinding to Protoheme: Investigations of the Proximal and Distal Contributions to the Geminate Rebinding Barrier 
The rebinding kinetics of CO to protoheme (FePPIX) in the presence and absence of a proximal imidazole ligand reveals the magnitude of the rebinding barrier associated with proximal histidine ligation. The ligation states of the heme under different solvent conditions are also investigated using both equilibrium and transient spectroscopy. In the absence of imidazole, a weak ligand (probably water) is bound on the proximal side of the FePPIX-CO adduct. When the heme is encapsulated in micelles of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB), photolysis of FePPIX-CO induces a complicated set of proximal ligation changes. In contrast, the use of glycerol-water solutions leads to a simple two-state geminate kinetic response with rapid (10–100 ps) CO recombination and a geminate amplitude that can be controlled by adjusting the solvent viscosity. By comparing the rate of CO rebinding to protoheme in glycerol solution with and without a bound proximal imidazole ligand, we find the enthalpic contribution to the proximal rebinding barrier, Hp, to be 11 ± 2 kJ/mol. Further comparison of the CO rebinding rate of the imidazole bound protoheme with the analogous rate in myoglobin (Mb) leads to a determination of the difference in their distal free energy barriers: ΔGD ≈ 12 ± 1 kJ/mol. Estimates of the entropic contributions, due to the ligand accessible volumes in the distal pocket and the xenon-4 cavity of myoglobin (~3 kJ/mol), then lead to a distal pocket enthalpic barrier of HD ≈ 9 ± 2 kJ/mol. These results agree well with the predictions of a simple model and with previous independent room-temperature measurements (Tian et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 1992, 68, 408) of the enthalpic MbCO rebinding barrier (18 ± 2 kJ/mol).
PMCID: PMC2768272  PMID: 15839683
2.  Nitrosylation Mechanisms of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Campylobacter jejuni Truncated Hemoglobins N, O, and P 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102811.
Truncated hemoglobins (trHbs) are widely distributed in bacteria and plants and have been found in some unicellular eukaryotes. Phylogenetic analysis based on protein sequences shows that trHbs branch into three groups, designated N (or I), O (or II), and P (or III). Most trHbs are involved in the O2/NO chemistry and/or oxidation/reduction function, permitting the survival of the microorganism in the host. Here, a detailed comparative analysis of kinetics and/or thermodynamics of (i) ferrous Mycobacterium tubertulosis trHbs N and O (Mt-trHbN and Mt-trHbO, respectively), and Campylobacter jejuni trHb (Cj-trHbP) nitrosylation, (ii) nitrite-mediated nitrosylation of ferrous Mt-trHbN, Mt-trHbO, and Cj-trHbP, and (iii) NO-based reductive nitrosylation of ferric Mt-trHbN, Mt-trHbO, and Cj-trHbP is reported. Ferrous and ferric Mt-trHbN and Cj-trHbP display a very high reactivity towards NO; however, the conversion of nitrite to NO is facilitated primarily by ferrous Mt-trHbN. Values of kinetic and/or thermodynamic parameters reflect specific trHb structural features, such as the ligand diffusion pathways to/from the heme, the heme distal pocket structure and polarity, and the ligand stabilization mechanisms. In particular, the high reactivity of Mt-trHbN and Cj-trHbP reflects the great ligand accessibility to the heme center by two protein matrix tunnels and the E7-path, respectively, and the penta-coordination of the heme-Fe atom. In contrast, the heme-Fe atom of Mt-trHbO the ligand accessibility to the heme center of Mt-trHbO needs large conformational readjustments, thus limiting the heme-based reactivity. These results agree with different roles of Mt-trHbN, Mt-trHbO, and Cj-trHbP in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4106858  PMID: 25051055
3.  Peroxidase Activity and Involvement in the Oxidative Stress Response of Roseobacter denitrificans Truncated Hemoglobin 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0117768.
Roseobacter denitrificans is a member of the widespread marine Roseobacter genus. We report the first characterization of a truncated hemoglobin from R. denitrificans (Rd. trHb) that was purified in the heme-bound form from heterologous expression of the protein in Escherichia coli. Rd. trHb exhibits predominantly alpha-helical secondary structure and absorbs light at 412, 538 and 572 nm. The phylogenetic classification suggests that Rd. trHb falls into group II trHbs, whereas sequence alignments indicate that it shares certain important heme pocket residues with group I trHbs in addition to those of group II trHbs. The resonance Raman spectra indicate that the isolated Rd. trHb contains a ferric heme that is mostly 6-coordinate low-spin and that the heme of the ferrous form displays a mixture of 5- and 6-coordinate states. Two Fe-His stretching modes were detected, notably one at 248 cm-1, which has been reported in peroxidases and some flavohemoglobins that contain an Fe-His-Asp (or Glu) catalytic triad, but was never reported before in a trHb. We show that Rd. trHb exhibits a significant peroxidase activity with a (kcat/Km) value three orders of magnitude higher than that of bovine Hb and only one order lower than that of horseradish peroxidase. This enzymatic activity is pH-dependent with a pKa value ~6.8. Homology modeling suggests that residues known to be important for interactions with heme-bound ligands in group II trHbs from Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Bacillus subtilis are pointing toward to heme in Rd. trHb. Genomic organization and gene expression profiles imply possible functions for detoxification of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in vivo. Altogether, Rd. trHb exhibits some distinctive features and appears equipped to help the bacterium to cope with reactive oxygen/nitrogen species and/or to operate redox biochemistry.
PMCID: PMC4319818  PMID: 25658318
4.  Real-time tracking of CO migration and binding in the α and β subunits of human hemoglobin via 150-ps time-resolved Laue crystallography 
Chemical physics  2013;422:98-106.
We have developed the method of picosecond Laue crystallography and used this capability to probe ligand dynamics in tetrameric R-state hemoglobin (Hb). Time-resolved, 2 Å-resolution electron density maps of photolyzed HbCO reveal the time-dependent population of CO in the binding (A) and primary docking (B) sites of both α and β subunits from 100 ps to 10 μs. The proximity of the B site in the β subunit is about 0.25 Å closer to its A binding site, and its kBA rebinding rate (~300 μs−1) is six times faster, suggesting distal control of the rebinding dynamics. Geminate rebinding in the β subunit exhibits both prompt and delayed geminate phases. We developed a microscopic model to quantitatively explain the observed kinetics, with three states for the α subunit and four states for the β subunit. This model provides a consistent framework for interpreting rebinding kinetics reported in prior studies of both HbCO and HbO2.
PMCID: PMC4020136  PMID: 24839343
Hemoglobin; Geminate rebinding; Ligand migration; Time-resolved Laue crystallography
5.  Responses of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Hemoglobin Promoters to In Vitro and In Vivo Growth Conditions▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(11):3512-3522.
The success of Mycobacterium tuberculosis as one of the dreaded human pathogens lies in its ability to utilize different defense mechanisms in response to the varied environmental challenges during the course of its intracellular infection, latency, and reactivation cycle. Truncated hemoglobins trHbN and trHbO are thought to play pivotal roles in the cellular metabolism of this organism during stress and hypoxia. To delineate the genetic regulation of the M. tuberculosis hemoglobins, transcriptional fusions of the promoters of the glbN and glbO genes with green fluorescent protein were constructed, and their responses were monitored in Mycobacterium smegmatis and M. tuberculosis H37Ra exposed to environmental stresses in vitro and in M. tuberculosis H37Ra after in vivo growth inside macrophages. The glbN promoter activity increased substantially during stationary phase and was nearly 3- to 3.5-fold higher than the activity of the glbO promoter, which remained more or less constant during different growth phases in M. smegmatis, as well as in M. tuberculosis H37Ra. In both mycobacterial hosts, the glbN promoter activity was induced 1.5- to 2-fold by the general nitrosative stress inducer, nitrite, as well as the NO releaser, sodium nitroprusside (SNP). The glbO promoter was more responsive to nitrite than to SNP, although the overall increase in its activity was much less than that of the glbN promoter. Additionally, the glbN promoter remained insensitive to the oxidative stress generated by H2O2, but the glbO promoter activity increased nearly 1.5-fold under similar conditions, suggesting that the trHb gene promoters are regulated differently under nitrosative and oxidative stress conditions. In contrast, transition metal-induced hypoxia enhanced the activity of both the glbN and glbO promoters at all growth phases; the glbO promoter was induced ∼2.3-fold, which was found to be the highest value for this promoter under all the conditions evaluated. Addition of iron along with nickel reversed the induction in both cases. Interestingly, a concentration-dependent decrease in the activity of both trHb gene promoters was observed when the levels of iron in the growth media were depleted by addition of an iron chelator. These results suggested that an iron/heme-containing oxygen sensor is involved in the modulation of the trHb gene promoter activities directly or indirectly in conjunction with other cellular factors. The modes of promoter regulation under different physiological conditions were found to be similar for the trHbs in both M. smegmatis and M. tuberculosis H37Ra, indicating that the promoters might be regulated by components that are common to the two systems. Confocal microscopy of THP-1 macrophages infected with M. tuberculosis carrying the trHb gene promoter fusions showed that there was a significant level of promoter activity during intracellular growth in macrophages. Time course evaluation of the promoter activity after various times up to 48 h by fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis of the intracellular M. tuberculosis cells indicated that the glbN promoter was active at all time points assessed, whereas the activity of the glbO promoter remained at a steady-state level up to 24 h postinfection and increased ∼2-fold after 48 h of infection. Thus, the overall regulation pattern of the M. tuberculosis trHb gene promoters correlates not only with the stresses that the tubercle bacillus is likely to encounter once it is in the macrophage environment but also with our current knowledge of their functions. The in vivo studies that demonstrated for the first time expression of trHbs during macrophage infection of M. tuberculosis strongly indicate that the hemoglobins are required, and thus important, during the intracellular phase of the bacterial cycle. The present study of transcriptional regulation of M. tuberculosis hemoglobins in vitro under various stress conditions and in vivo after macrophage infection supports the hypothesis that biosynthesis of both trHbs (trHbN and trHbO) in the native host is regulated via the environmental signals that the tubercle bacillus receives during macrophage infection and growth in its human host.
PMCID: PMC2423021  PMID: 18390674
6.  Vibrational Coherence Spectroscopy of the Heme Domain in the CO-Sensing Transcriptional Activator CooA 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2011;133(46):18816-18827.
Femtosecond vibrational coherence spectroscopy was used to investigate the low frequency vibrational dynamics of the heme in the carbon monoxide oxidation activator protein (CooA) from the thermophilic anaerobic bacterium Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans (Ch-CooA). Low frequency vibrational modes are important because they are excited by the ambient thermal bath (kBT = 200 cm-1) and participate in thermally activated barrier crossing events. However, such modes are nearly impossible to detect in the aqueous phase using traditional spectroscopic methods. Here we present the low frequency coherence spectra of the ferric, ferrous, and CO-bound forms of Ch-CooA in order to compare the protein-induced heme distortions in its active and inactive states. Distortions take place predominantly along the coordinates of low-frequency modes because of their weak force constants and such distortions are reflected in the intensity of the vibrational coherence signals. A strong mode near ~90 cm-1 in the ferrous form of Ch-CooA is suggested to contain a large component of heme ruffling, consistent with the imidazole bound ferrous heme crystal structure, which shows a significant protein-induced heme distortion along this coordinate. A mode observed at ~228 cm-1 in the six-coordinate ferrous state is proposed to be the ν(Fe-His) stretching vibration. The observation of the Fe-His mode indicates that photolysis of the N-terminal α-amino axial ligand takes place. This is followed by a rapid (~8.5 ps) transient absorption recovery, analogous to methionine rebinding in photolyzed ferrous cytochrome c. We have also studied CO photolysis in CooA, which revealed very strong photoproduct state coherent oscillations. The observation of heme-CO photoproduct oscillations is unusual because most other heme systems have CO rebinding kinetics that are too slow to make the measurement possible. The low frequency coherence spectrum of the CO-bound form of Ch-CooA shows a strong vibration at ~230 cm-1 that is broadened and up-shifted compared to the ν(Fe-His) of Rr-CooA (216 cm-1). We propose that the stronger Fe-His bond is related to the enhanced thermal stability of Ch-CooA and that there is a smaller (time dependent) tilt of the histidine ring with respect to the heme plane in Ch-CooA. The appearance of strong modes at ~48 cm-1 in both the ferrous and CO-bound forms of Ch-CooA is consistent with coupling of the heme doming distortion to the photolysis reaction in both samples. Upon CO binding and protein activation, a heme mode near 112 ± 5 cm-1 disappears, probably indicating a decreased heme saddling distortion. This reflects changes in the heme environment and geometry that must be associated with the conformational transition activating the DNA-binding domain. Protein-specific DNA binding to the CO-bound form of Ch-CooA was also investigated and, although the CO rebinding kinetics are significantly perturbed, there are negligible changes in the low-frequency vibrational spectrum of the heme.
PMCID: PMC3218251  PMID: 21961804
Ch-CooA; DNA-Protein interaction; low frequency modes; heme distortion; Fe-His stretching vibration
7.  Modulating Distal Cavities in the α and β Subunits of Human HbA Reveals the Primary Ligand Migration Pathway† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(34):7361-7374.
The free volume in the active site of human HbA plays a crucial role in governing the bimolecular rates of O2, CO, and NO binding, the fraction of geminate ligand recombination, and the rate of NO dioxygenation by the oxygenated complex. We have decreased the size of the distal pocket by mutating Leu(B10), Val(E11) and Leu(G8) to Phe and Trp and of other more internal cavities by filling them with Xe at high gas pressures. Increasing the size of the B10 side chain reduces bimolecular rates of ligand binding nearly 5,000-fold and inhibits CO geminate recombination due to both reduction of the capture volume in the distal pocket and direct steric hindrance of Fe-ligand bond formation. Phe and Trp(E11) mutations also cause a decrease in distal pocket volume but, at the same time, increase access to the Fe atom due to the loss of the γ2 CH3 group of the native Val(E11) side chain. The net result of these E11 substitutions is a dramatic increase in geminate recombination because dissociated CO is sequestered close to the Fe atom and can rapidly rebind without steric resistance. However, the bimolecular rate constants for ligand binding to the Phe and Trp(E11) mutants are decreased 5–30-fold, due to a smaller capture volume. Geminate and bimolecular kinetic parameters for Phe and Trp(G8) mutants are similar to those for the native HbA subunits because the aromatic rings at this position cause little change in distal pocket volume and because ligands do not move past this position into the globin interior of wild-type HbA subunits. The latter conclusion is verified by the observation that Xe binding to the α and β Hb subunits has little effect on either geminate or bimolecular ligand rebinding. All of these experimental results argue strongly against alternative ligand migration pathways that involve movements through the protein interior in HbA. Instead, ligands appear to enter through the His(E7) gate and are captured directly in the distal cavity.
PMCID: PMC3160505  PMID: 21793487
hemoglobin; myoglobin; xenon binding sites; geminate recombination; flash photolysis; ligand migration pathways; non-covalent binding site
8.  Role of Copper Ion in Regulating Ligand Binding in a Myoglobin-Based Cytochrome c Oxidase Model 
Cytochrome c oxidase (CcO), the terminal enzyme in the mitochondrial respiratory chain, catalyzes the four-electron reduction of dioxygen to water in a binuclear center comprised of a high-spin heme (heme a3) and a copper atom (CuB) coordinated by three histidine residues. As a minimum model for CcO, a mutant of sperm whale myoglobin, named CuBMb, has been engineered, in which a copper atom is held in the distal heme pocket by the native E7 histidine and two nonnative histidine residues. In this work, the role of the copper in regulating ligand binding in CuBMb was investigated. Resonance Raman studies show that the presence of copper in CO-bound CuBMb leads to a CcO-like distal heme pocket. Stopped-flow data show that, upon the initiation of the CO binding reaction, the ligand first binds to the Cu+; it subsequently transfers from Cu+ to Fe2+ in an intramolecular process, similar to that reported for CcO. The high CO affinity toward Cu+ and the slow intramolecular CO transfer rate between Cu+ and Fe2+ in the CuBMb/Cu+ complex are analogous to those in Thermus thermophilus CcO (TtCcO) but distinct from those in bovine CcO (bCcO). Additional kinetic studies show that, upon photolysis of the NO-bound CuBMb/Cu+ complex, the photolyzed ligand transiently binds to Cu+ and subsequently rebinds to Fe2+, accounting for the 100% geminate recombination yield, similar to that found in TtCcO. The data demonstrate that the CuBMb/Cu+ complex reproduces essential structural and kinetic features of CcO and that the complex is more akin to TtCcO than to bCcO.
PMCID: PMC3761084  PMID: 20070118
9.  The Stretching Frequencies of Bound Alkyl Isocyanides Indicate Two Distinct Ligand Orientations within the Distal Pocket of Myoglobin† 
Biochemistry  2010;49(24):4968-4976.
The FTIR spectra for alkyl isocyanides (CNRs) change from a single νCN band centered at ~2175 cm−1 to two peaks at ~2075 and ~2125 cm−1 upon binding to sperm whale myoglobin (Mb). The low and high frequency peaks have been assigned to in and out conformations, respectively. In the in conformation, the ligand is pointing toward the protein interior, and the distal His64(E7) is in a closed position, donates a H-bond to the bound isocyano group, enhances back bonding, and lowers the C-N bond order. In the out conformation, the ligand side chain points toward solvent through a channel opened by outward rotation of His64. Loss of positive polarity near the binding site causes an increase in C-N bond order. Support for this interpretation is three-fold: (1) similar shifts to lower frequency occur for MbCO complexes when H-bond donation from His64(E7) occurs; (2) only one peak at ~2125 cm−1, indicative of an apolar environment, is observed for CNRs bound to H64A or H64L Mb mutants or to chelated protoheme in soap micelles; and (3) the fraction of in conformation based on FTIR spectra correlates strongly with the fraction of geminate recombination after nanosecond laser photolysis. The in alkyl side chain conformation causes the photodissociated ligand to be “stuck” in the distal pocket, promoting internal rebinding, whereas the out conformation inhibits geminate recombination because part of the ligand is already in an open E7 channel, poised for rapid escape.
PMCID: PMC4102131  PMID: 20476740
myoglobin; alkyl isocyanide; isonitrile; model heme; soap micelle; FTIR; infrared; vibrational spectroscopy; Fermi resonance; geminate recombination; iron coordination
10.  Heme-heme and heme-ligand interactions in the di-heme oxygen-reducing site of cytochrome bd from Escherichia coli revealed by nanosecond absorption spectroscopy 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2010;1797(9):1657-1664.
Cytochrome bd is a terminal quinol:O2 oxidoreductase of respiratory chains of many bacteria. It contains three hemes, b558, b595, and d. The role of heme b595 remains obscure. A CO photolysis/recombination study of the membranes of Escherichia coli containing either wild type cytochrome bd or inactive E445A mutant was performed using nanosecond absorption spectroscopy. We compared photoinduced changes of heme d-CO complex in one-electron-reduced, two-electron-reduced, and fully-reduced states of cytochromes bd. The line shape of spectra of photodissociation of one-electron-reduced and two-electron-reduced enzymes is strikingly different from that of the fully-reduced enzyme. The difference demonstrates that in the fully-reduced enzyme photolysis of CO from heme d perturbs ferrous heme b595 causing loss of an absorption band centered at 435 nm, thus supporting interactions between heme b595 and heme d in the di-heme oxygen-reducing site, in agreement with previous works. Photolyzed CO recombines with the fully-reduced enzyme monoexponentially with τ ~12 µs, whereas recombination of CO with one-electron-reduced cytochrome bd shows three kinetic phases, with τ ~14 ns, 14 µs, and 280 µs. The spectra of the absorption changes associated with these components are different in line shape. The 14 ns phase, absent in the fully-reduced enzyme, reflects geminate recombination of CO with part of heme d. The 14 µs component reflects bimolecular recombination of CO with heme d and electron backflow from heme d to hemes b in ~4% of the enzyme population. The final, 280 µs component, reflects return of the electron from hemes b to heme d and bimolecular recombination of CO in that population. The fact that even in the two-electron-reduced enzyme, a nanosecond geminate recombination is observed, suggests that namely the redox state of heme b595, and not that of heme b558, controls the pathway(s) by which CO migrates between heme d and the medium.
PMCID: PMC3990236  PMID: 20529691
respiration; chlorin; cytochrome; ligand binding; gas molecule; photobiology
11.  Direct Observation of Cooperative Protein Structural Dynamics of Homodimeric Hemoglobin from 100 ps to 10 ms with Pump–Probe X-ray Solution Scattering 
Proteins serve as molecular machines in performing their biological functions, but the detailed structural transitions are difficult to observe in their native aqueous environments in real time. For example, despite extensive studies, the solution-phase structures of the intermediates along the allosteric pathways for the transitions between the relaxed (R) and tense (T) forms have been elusive. In this work, we employed picosecond X-ray solution scattering and novel structural analysis to track the details of the structural dynamics of wild-type homodimeric hemoglobin (HbI) from the clam Scapharca inaequivalvis and its F97Y mutant over a wide time range from 100 ps to 56.2 ms. From kinetic analysis of the measured time-resolved X-ray solution scattering data, we identified three structurally distinct intermediates (I1, I2, and I3) and their kinetic pathways common for both the wild type and the mutant. The data revealed that the singly liganded and unliganded forms of each intermediate share the same structure, providing direct evidence that the ligand photolysis of only a single subunit induces the same structural change as the complete photolysis of both subunits does. In addition, by applying novel structural analysis to the scattering data, we elucidated the detailed structural changes in the protein, including changes in the heme–heme distance, the quaternary rotation angle of subunits, and interfacial water gain/loss. The earliest, R-like I1 intermediate is generated within 100 ps and transforms to the R-like I2 intermediate with a time constant of 3.2 ± 0.2 ns. Subsequently, the late, T-like I3 intermediate is formed via subunit rotation, a decrease in the heme–heme distance, and substantial gain of interfacial water and exhibits ligation-dependent formation kinetics with time constants of 730 ± 120 ns for the fully photolyzed form and 5.6 ± 0.8 μs for the partially photolyzed form. For the mutant, the overall kinetics are accelerated, and the formation of the T-like I3 intermediate involves interfacial water loss (instead of water entry) and lacks the contraction of the heme–heme distance, thus underscoring the dramatic effect of the F97Y mutation. The ability to keep track of the detailed movements of the protein in aqueous solution in real time provides new insights into the protein structural dynamics.
PMCID: PMC3337689  PMID: 22494177
12.  Ultrafast dynamics of diatomic ligand binding to nitrophorin 4 
Nitrophorin 4 (NP4) is a heme protein that stores and delivers nitric oxide (NO) through pH sensitive conformational change. This protein uses the ferric state of a highly ruffled heme to bind NO tightly at low pH and release it at high pH. In this work, the rebinding kinetics of NO and CO to NP4 are investigated as a function of iron oxidation state and the acidity of the environment. The geminate recombination process of NO to ferrous NP4 at both pH 5 and pH 7 is dominated by a single ~7 ps kinetic phase that we attribute to the rebinding of NO directly from the distal pocket. The lack of pH dependence explains in part why NP4 cannot use the ferrous state to fulfill its function. The kinetic response of ferric NP4NO shows two distinct phases. The relative geminate amplitude of the slower phase increases dramatically as the pH is raised from 5 to 8. We assign the fast phase of NO rebinding to a conformation of the ferric protein with a closed hydrophobic pocket. The slow phase is assigned to the protein in an open conformation with a more hydrophilic heme pocket environment. Analysis of the ultrafast kinetics finds the equilibrium off-rate of NO to be proportional to the open state population as well as the pH-dependent amplitude of escape from the open pocket. When both factors are considered, the off-rate increases by more than an order of magnitude as the pH changes from 5 to 8. The recombination of CO to ferrous NP4 is observed to have a large non-exponential geminate amplitude with rebinding timescales of ~10−11–10−9 s at pH 5 and ~10−10–10−8 s at pH 7. The non-exponential CO rebinding kinetics at both pH 5 and pH 7 are accounted for using a simple model that has proven effective for understanding CO binding in a variety of other heme systems.
PMCID: PMC2835772  PMID: 20121274
13.  An Engineered Heme-Copper Center in Myoglobin: CO Migration and Binding 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1834(9):1824-1831.
We have investigated CO migration and binding in CuBMb, a copper-binding myoglobin double mutant (L29H-F43H), by using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and flash photolysis over a wide temperature range. This mutant was originally engineered with the aim to mimic the catalytic site of heme-copper oxidases. Comparison of the wild-type protein Mb and CuBMb shows that the copper ion in the distal pocket gives rise to significant effects on ligand binding to the heme iron. In Mb and copper-free CuBMb, primary and secondary ligand docking sites are accessible upon photodissociation. In copper-bound CuBMb, ligands do not migrate to secondary docking sites but rather coordinate to the copper ion. Ligands entering the heme pocket from the outside normally would not be captured efficiently by the tight distal pocket housing the two additional large imidazole rings. Binding at the Cu ion, however, ensures efficient trapping in CuBMb. The Cu ion also restricts the motions of the His64 side chain, which is the entry/exit door for ligand movement into the active site, and this restriction results in enhanced geminate and slow bimolecular CO rebinding. These results support current mechanistic views of ligand binding in hemoglobins and the role of the CuB in the active of heme-copper oxidases.
PMCID: PMC3687040  PMID: 23459127
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy; temperature derivative spectroscopy; heme protein; ligand binding; ligand migration; photolysis difference spectroscopy
14.  Temperature dependent studies of NO recombination to heme and heme proteins 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2005;127(48):16921-16934.
The rebinding kinetics of NO to the heme iron of myoglobin (Mb) is investigated as a function of temperature. Below 200K, the transition state enthalpy barrier associated with the fastest (~10ps) recombination phase is found to be zero, while a slower geminate phase (~200ps) reveals a small enthalpic barrier (~ 3 ± 1 kJ/mol). Both of the kinetic rates slow down slightly in the myoglobin (Mb) samples above 200K, suggesting that a small amount of protein relaxation takes place above the solvent glass transition. When the temperature dependence of the NO recombination in Mb is studied under conditions where the distal pocket is mutated (e.g., V68W), the rebinding kinetics lack the slow phase. This is consistent with a mechanism where the slower (~200ps) kinetic phase involves transitions of the NO ligand into the distal heme pocket from a more distant site (e.g., in or near the Xe4 cavity). Comparison of the temperature dependent NO rebinding kinetics of native Mb with that of the bare heme (PPIX) in glycerol reveals that the fast (enthalpically barrierless) NO rebinding process observed below 200K is independent of the presence or absence of the proximal histidine ligand. In contrast, the slowing of the kinetic rates above 200K in MbNO disappears in the absence of the protein. Generally, the data indicate that, in contrast to CO, the NO ligand binds to the heme iron through a “harpoon” mechanism where the heme iron out-of-plane conformation presents a negligible enthalpic barrier to NO rebinding. These observations strongly support a previous analysis (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1988, 110, 6656) that primarily attributes the low temperature stretched exponential rebinding of MbCO to a quenched distribution of heme geometries. A simple model is presented for MbNO rebinding that explains a variety of experiments, including the dependence of the kinetic amplitudes on the pump photon energy.
PMCID: PMC2553725  PMID: 16316238
15.  Nanosecond Time-Resolved Polarization Spectroscopies: Tools for Probing Protein Reaction Mechanisms 
Methods (San Diego, Calif.)  2010;52(1):3-11.
Polarization methods, introduced in the 1800’s, offered one of the earliest ways to examine protein structure. Since then, many other structure-sensitive probes have been developed, but circular dichroism (CD) remains a powerful technique because of its versatility and the specificity of protein structural information that can be explored. With improvements in time-resolution, from millisecond to picosecond CD measurements, it has proven to be an important tool for studying the mechanism of folding and function in many biomolecules. For example, nanosecond time-resolved CD (TRCD) studies of the sub-microsecond events of reduced cytochrome c folding have provided direct experimental evidence of kinetic heterogeneity, which is an inherent property of the diffusional nature of early folding dynamics on the energy landscape. In addition, TRCD has been applied to the study of many biochemical processes, such as ligand rebinding in hemoglobin and myoglobin and signaling state formation in photoactive yellow protein and prototropin 1 LOV2. The basic approach to TRCD has also been extended to include a repertoire of nanosecond polarization spectroscopies: optical rotatory dispersion (ORD), magnetic CD and ORD, and linear dichroism. This article will discuss the details of the polarization methods used in this laboratory, as well as the coupling of timeresolved ORD with the temperature-jump trigger so that protein folding can be studied in a larger number of proteins.
PMCID: PMC2934884  PMID: 20438842
Time-resolved; Circular dichroism; Temperature-jump; Optical rotatory dispersion; Magnetic circular dichroism; Polarization spectroscopy
16.  Evolution, Three-Dimensional Model and Localization of Truncated Hemoglobin PttTrHb of Hybrid Aspen 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88573.
Thus far, research on plant hemoglobins (Hbs) has mainly concentrated on symbiotic and non-symbiotic Hbs, and information on truncated Hbs (TrHbs) is scarce. The aim of this study was to examine the origin, structure and localization of the truncated Hb (PttTrHb) of hybrid aspen (Populus tremula L. × tremuloides Michx.), the model system of tree biology. Additionally, we studied the PttTrHb expression in relation to non-symbiotic class1 Hb gene (PttHb1) using RNAi-silenced hybrid aspen lines. Both the phylogenetic analysis and the three-dimensional (3D) model of PttTrHb supported the view that plant TrHbs evolved vertically from a bacterial TrHb. The 3D model suggested that PttTrHb adopts a 2-on-2 sandwich of α-helices and has a Bacillus subtilis -like ligand-binding pocket in which E11Gln and B10Tyr form hydrogen bonds to a ligand. However, due to differences in tunnel cavity and gate residue (E7Ala), it might not show similar ligand-binding kinetics as in Bs-HbO (E7Thr). The immunolocalization showed that PttTrHb protein was present in roots, stems as well as leaves of in vitro -grown hybrid aspens. In mature organs, PttTrHb was predominantly found in the vascular bundles and specifically at the site of lateral root formation, overlapping consistently with areas of nitric oxide (NO) production in plants. Furthermore, the NO donor sodium nitroprusside treatment increased the amount of PttTrHb in stems. The observed PttTrHb localization suggests that PttTrHb plays a role in the NO metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3919811  PMID: 24520401
17.  Laser Flash Photolysis Generation of High-Valent Transition Metal-Oxo Species: Insights from Kinetic Studies in Real Time 
Accounts of chemical research  2008;41(3):468-477.
High-valent transition metal-oxo species are active oxidizing species in many metal-catalyzed oxidation reactions in both Nature and the laboratory. In homogeneous catalytic oxidations, a transition metal catalyst is oxidized to a metal-oxo species by a sacrificial oxidant, and the activated transition metal-oxo intermediate oxidizes substrates. Mechanistic studies of these oxidizing species can provide insights for understanding commercially important catalytic oxidations and the oxidants in cytochrome P450 enzymes. In many cases, however, the transition metal oxidants are so reactive that they do not accumulate to detectable levels in mixing experiments, which have millisecond mixing times, and successful generation and direct spectroscopic characterization of these highly reactive transients remain a considerable challenge. Our strategy for understanding homogeneous catalysis intermediates employs photochemical generation of the transients with spectroscopic detection on time-scales as short as nanoseconds and direct kinetic studies of their reactions with substrates by laser flash photolysis (LFP) methods. This Account describes studies of high-valent manganese- and iron-oxo intermediates. Irradiation of porphyrin-manganese(III) nitrates and chlorates or corrole-manganese(IV) chlorates resulted in homolytic cleavage of the O-X bonds in the ligands, whereas irradiation of porphyrin-manganese(III) perchlorates resulted in heterolytic cleavage of O-Cl bonds to give porphyrin-manganese(V)-oxo cations. Similar reactions of corrole- and porphyrin-iron(IV) complexes gave highly reactive transients that were tentatively identified as macrocyclic ligand-iron(V)-oxo species. Kinetic studies demonstrated high reactivity of the manganese(V)-oxo species, and even higher reactivities of the putative iron(V)-oxo transients. For example, second-order rate constants for oxidations of cis-cyclooctene at room temperature were 6 × 103 M−1 s−1 for a corrole-iron(V)-oxo species and 1.6 × 106 M−1 s−1 for the putative tetramesitylporphyrin-iron(V)-oxo perchlorate species. The latter rate constant is 25,000 times larger than that for oxidation of cis-cyclooctene by iron(IV)-oxo perchlorate tetramesitylporphyrin radical cation, which is the thermodynamically favored electronic isomer of the putative iron(V)-oxo species. The LFP-determined rate constants can be used to implicate the transient oxidants in catalytic reactions under turnover conditions where high-valent species are not observable. Similarly, the observed reactivities of the putative porphyrin-iron(V)-oxo species might explain the unusually high reactivity of oxidants produced in the cytochrome P450 enzymes, heme-thiolate enzymes that are capable of oxidizing unactivated carbon-hydrogen bonds in substrates so rapidly that iron-oxo intermediates have not been detected under physiological conditions.
PMCID: PMC2907137  PMID: 18278877
18.  Investigations of Low Frequency Vibrational Dynamics and Ligand Binding Kinetics of Cystathionine β-synthase 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2010;114(9):3294-3306.
Vibrational coherence spectroscopy is used to study the low frequency dynamics of the truncated dimer of human cystathionine β-synthase (CBS). CBS is a pyridoxal-5′-phosphate-dependent heme enzyme with cysteine and histidine axial ligands that catalyzes the condensation of serine and homocysteine to form cystathionine. A strong correlation between the “detuned” coherence spectrum (which probes higher frequencies) and the Raman spectrum is demonstrated and a rich pattern of modes below 200 cm−1 is revealed. Normal coordinate structural decomposition (NSD) of the ferric CBS crystal structure predicts the enhancement of normal modes with significant heme “doming”, “ruffling”, and “saddling” content and they are observed in the coherence spectra near ~40 cm−1, ~60 cm−1, and ~90 cm−1. When pH is varied, the relative intensities and frequencies of the low-frequency heme modes indicate the presence of a unique protein-induced heme structural perturbation near pH 7 that differs from what is observed at higher or lower pH. For ferric CBS, we observe a new mode near ~25 cm−1, possibly involving the response of the protein, which exhibits a phase jump of ~π for excitation on the blue and red side of the Soret band maximum. The low frequency vibrational coherence spectrum of ferrous CBS is also presented, along with our efforts to probe its NO-bound complex. The CBS-CO geminate rebinding kinetics are similar to the CO-bound form of the gene activator protein CooA, but with the appearance of a significant additional kinetic inhomogeneity. Analysis of this inhomogeneity suggests that it arises from the two subunits of CBS and leads to a factor of ~20 for the ratio of the average CO geminate rebinding rates of the two subunits.
PMCID: PMC2842918  PMID: 20155941
femtosecond pump-probe; vibrational coherence spectroscopy; cystathionine β-synthase; low frequency modes; geminate rebinding; heme proteins
19.  Photolysis of Adenosylcobalamin and Radical Pair Recombination in Ethanolamine Ammonia-Lyase Probed on the Micro- to Millisecond Time Scale by using Time-Resolved Optical Absorption Spectroscopy† 
Biochemistry  2009;48(1):140-147.
The quantum yield and kinetics of decay of cob(II)alamin formed by pulsed-laser photolysis of adenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl) in coenzyme B12 (AdoCbl)-dependent ethanolamine ammonia-lyase (EAL) from Salmonella typhimurium have been studied on the 10-7 - 10-1 s time scale at 295 K by using transient ultraviolet-visible absorption spectroscopy. The aim is to probe the mechanism of formation and stabilization of the cob(II)alamin-5′-deoxyadenosyl radical pair, which is a key intermediate in EAL catalysis, and the influence of substrate binding on this process. Substrate binding is required for cobalt-carbon bond cleavage in the native system. Photolysis of AdoCbl in EAL leads to a quantum yield at 10-7 s for cob(II)alamin of 0.08 ±0.01, which is 3-fold less than for AdoCbl in aqueous solution (0.23 ±0.01). The protein binding site therefore suppresses photoproduct radical pair formation. Three photoproduct states, Pf, Ps, and Pc, are identified in holo-EAL by the different cob(II)alamin decay kinetics (subscripts denote fast, slow, and constant, respectively). These states have the following first-order decay rate constants and quantum yields: Pf (2.2×103 s-1; 0.02), Ps (4.2×102 s-1; 0.01), and Pc (constant amplitude, no recombination; 0.05). Binding of the substrate analog, (S)-1-amino-2-propanol, to EAL eliminates the Pf state, and lowers the quantum yield of Pc (0.03) relative to Ps (0.01), but does not significantly change the quantum yield or decay rate constant of Ps, relative to holo-EAL. The substrate analog thus influences the quantum yield at 10-7 s by changing the cage escape rate from the geminate cob(II)alamin-5′-deoxyadenosyl radical pair state. However, the predicted substrate analog binding-induced increase in the quantum yield is not observed. It is proposed that the substrate analog does not induce the radical pair stabilizing changes in the protein that are characteristic of true substrates.
PMCID: PMC2642536  PMID: 19072291
20.  Characterization of the truncated hemoglobin THB1 from protein extracts of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii  
F1000Research  2014;3:294.
Truncated hemoglobins (TrHbs) belong to the hemoglobin superfamily, but unlike their distant vertebrate relatives, little is known about their principal physiologic functions.  Several TrHbs have been studied in vitro using engineered recombinant peptides.  These efforts have resulted in a wealth of knowledge about the chemical properties of TrHbs and have generated interesting functional leads. However, questions persist as to how closely these engineered proteins mimic their counterparts within the native cell. In this report, we examined THB1, one of several TrHbs from the model organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The recombinant THB1 (rTHB1) has favorable solubility and stability properties and is an excellent candidate for in vitro characterization. Linking rTHB1 to the in vivo protein is a critical step in understanding the physiologic function of this protein. Using a simplified three-step purification protocol, 3.5-L batches of algal culture were processed to isolate 50–60 μL fractions enriched in THB1. These fractions of C. reinhardtii proteins were then subjected to physical examination. Using gel mobility, optical absorbance and immunoreactivity, THB1 was identified in these enriched fractions and its presence correlated with that of a heme molecule. Mass spectrometry confirmed this cofactor to be a type b heme and revealed that the native protein contains a co-translational modification consistent with amino-terminal acetylation following initial methionine cleavage.
PMCID: PMC4304232  PMID: 25653846
Hemoglobins; oxygen binding; THB1; Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
21.  Kinetic Spectroscopy of Heme Hydration and Ligand Binding in Myoglobin and Isolated Hemoglobin Chains: An Optical Window into Heme Pocket Water Dynamics 
The entry of a water molecule into the distal heme pocket of pentacoordinate heme proteins such as myoglobin and the α,β chains of hemoglobin can be detected by time-resolved spectroscopy in the heme visible bands after photolysis of the CO complex. Reviewing the evidence from spectrokinetic studies of Mb variants, we find that this optical method measures the occupancy of non(heme)coordinated water in the distal pocket, nw, with high fidelity. This evidence further suggests that perturbation of the kinetic barrier presented by distal pocket water is often the dominant mechanism by which active site mutations affect the bimolecular rate constant for CO binding. Water entry into the heme pockets of isolated hemoglobin subunits was detected by optical methods. Internal hydration is higher in the native α chains than in the β chains, in agreement with previous crystallographic results for the subunits within Hb tetramers. The kinetic parameters obtained from modeling of the water entry and ligand rebinding in Mb mutants and native Hb chains are consistent with an inverse dependence of the bimolecular association rate constant on the water occupancy factor. This correlation suggests that water and ligand mutually exclude one another from the distal pockets of both types of hemoglobin chains and myoglobin..
PMCID: PMC2935257  PMID: 20668762
22.  Cloning and Heterologous Expression of a β-d-Mannosidase (EC Gene from Thermobifida fusca TM51 
Thermobifida fusca TM51, a thermophilic actinomycete isolated from composted horse manure, was found to produce a number of lignocellulose-degrading hydrolases, including endoglucanases, exoglucanases, endoxylanases, β-xylosidases, endomannanases, and β-mannosidases, when grown on cellulose or hemicellulose as carbon sources. β-Mannosidases (EC, although contributing to the hydrolysis of hemicellulose fractions, such as galacto-mannans, constitute a lesser-known group of the lytic enzyme systems due to their low representation in the proteins secreted by hemicellulolytic microorganisms. An expression library of T. fusca, prepared in Streptomyces lividans TK24, was screened for β-mannosidase activity to clone genes coding for mannosidases. One positive clone was identified, and a β-mannosidase-encoding gene (manB) was isolated. Sequence analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence of the putative ManB protein revealed substantial similarity to known mannosidases in family 2 of the glycosyl hydrolase enzymes. The calculated molecular mass of the predicted protein was 94 kDa, with an estimated pI of 4.87. S. lividans was used as heterologous expression host for the putative β-mannosidase gene of T. fusca. The purified gene product obtained from the culture filtrate of S. lividans was then subjected to more-detailed biochemical analysis. Temperature and pH optima of the recombinant enzyme were 53°C and 7.17, respectively. Substrate specificity tests revealed that the enzyme exerts only β-d-mannosidase activity. Its kinetic parameters, determined on para-nitrophenyl β-d-mannopyranoside (pNP-βM) substrate were as follows: Km = 180 μM and Vmax = 5.96 μmol min−1 mg−1; the inhibition constant for mannose was Ki = 5.5 mM. Glucono-lacton had no effect on the enzyme activity. A moderate trans-glycosidase activity was also observed when the enzyme was incubated in the presence of pNP-αM and pNP-βM; under these conditions mannosyl groups were transferred by the enzyme from pNP-βM to pNP-αM resulting in the synthesis of small amounts (1 to 2%) of disaccharides.
PMCID: PMC154781  PMID: 12676668
23.  A two-parameter kinetic model based on a time-dependent activity coefficient accurately describes enzymatic cellulose digestion 
Biochemistry  2013;52(33):5656-5664.
Lignocellulosic biomass is a potential source of renewable, low-carbon-footprint liquid fuels. Biomass recalcitrance and enzyme cost are key challenges associated with the large-scale production of cellulosic fuel. Kinetic modeling of enzymatic cellulose digestion has been complicated by the heterogeneous nature of the substrate and by the fact that a true steady state cannot be attained. We present a two-parameter kinetic model based on the Michaelis-Menten scheme (Michaelis L and Menten ML. (1913) Biochem Z 49:333–369), but with a time-dependent activity coefficient analogous to fractal-like kinetics formulated by Kopelman (Kopelman R. (1988) Science 241:1620–1626). We provide a mathematical derivation and experimental support to show that one of the parameters is a total activity coefficient and the other is an intrinsic constant that reflects the ability of the cellulases to overcome substrate recalcitrance. The model is applicable to individual cellulases and their mixtures at low-to-medium enzyme loads. Using biomass degrading enzymes from a cellulolytic bacterium Thermobifida fusca we show that the model can be used for mechanistic studies of enzymatic cellulose digestion. We also demonstrate that it applies to the crude supernatant of the widely studied cellulolytic fungus Trichoderma reesei and can thus be used to compare cellulases from different organisms. The two parameters may serve a similar role to Vmax, KM, and kcat in classical kinetics. A similar approach may be applicable to other enzymes with heterogeneous substrates and where a steady state is not achievable.
PMCID: PMC4089187  PMID: 23837567
24.  Investigations of Ferric Heme Cyanide Photodissociation in Myoglobin and Horseradish Peroxidase 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2013;117(15):4042-4049.
The photodissociation of cyanide from ferric myoglobin (MbCN) and horseradish peroxidase (HRPCN) has been definitively observed. This has implications for the interpretation of ultrafast IR (Helbing et al. Biophys. J. 2004, 87, 1881–1891) and optical (Gruia et al. Biophys. J. 2008, 94, 2252–2268) studies that had previously suggested the Fe-CN bond was photostable in MbCN. The photolysis of ferric MbCN takes place with a quantum yield of ~75% and the resonance Raman spectrum of the photoproduct observed in steady-state experiments as a function of laser power and sample spinning rate is identical to that of ferric Mb (metMb). The data are quantitatively analyzed using a simple model where cyanide is photodissociated and, although geminate rebinding with a rate kBA ≈ (3.6 ps)−1 is the dominant process, some CN− exits from the distal heme pocket and is replaced by water. Using independently determined values for the CN− association rate, we find that the CN− escape rate from the ferric myoglobin pocket to the solution at 293 K is kout ≈ 1–2 × 107 s−1. This value is very similar to, but slightly larger than, the histidine gated escape rate of CO from Mb (1.1×107 s−1) under the same conditions. The analysis leads to an escape probability kout/(kout+kBA) ~ 10−4, which is unobservable in most time domain kinetic measurements. However, the photolysis is surprisingly easy to detect in Mb using cw resonance Raman measurements. This is due to the anomalously slow CN− bimolecular association rate (170 M−1s−1), which arises from the need for water to exchange at the ferric heme binding site of Mb. In contrast, ferric HRP does not have a heme bound water molecule and its CN− bimolecular association rate is larger by ~103 making the CN− photolysis more difficult to observe.
PMCID: PMC3631277  PMID: 23472676
Myoglobin CN; heme cyanide; photolysis; resonance Raman
25.  Extracellular overexpression of recombinant Thermobifida fusca cutinase by alpha-hemolysin secretion system in E. coli BL21(DE3) 
Extracellular expression of proteins has an absolute advantage in a large-scale industrial production. In our previous study, Thermobifida fusca cutinase, an enzyme mainly utilized in textile industry, was expressed via type II secretory system in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3), and it was found that parts of the expressed protein was accumulated in the periplasmic space. Due to the fact that alpha-hemolysin secretion system can export target proteins directly from cytoplasm across both cell membrane of E. coli to the culture medium, thus in the present study we investigated the expression of cutinase using this alpha-hemolysin secretion system.
T. fusca cutinase was fused with the specific signal peptide of alpha-hemolysin scretion system and expressed in E. coli BL21(DE3). In addition, HlyB and HlyD, strain-specific translocation components of alpha-hemolysin secretion system, were coexpressed to facilitate the enzyme expression. The cultivation of this engineered cell showed that cutinase activity in the culture medium reached 334 U/ml, which is 2.5 times that from type II secretion pathway under the same culture condition. The recombinant cutinase was further purified. Biochemical characterization of purified enzyme, which had an α-hemolysin secretion pathway signal peptide attached, had substrate specificity, pH and temperature profile, as well as application capability in bioscouring similar to that of wild-type cutinase.
In the present study, T. fusca cutinase was successfully secreted to the culture media by α-hemolysin secretion system. This is the first report of cutinase being efficiently secreted by this pathway. Due to the limited cases of successful expression of industrial enzyme by E. coli α-hemolysin secretion system, our study further explored the utilization of this pathway in industrial enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3286373  PMID: 22239833
alpha-hemolysin secretion pathway; cutinase; protein secretion; extracellular production

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