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Redox-Promoting Protein Motions in Rubredoxin...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Journal of Physical Chemistry B
Publication Date
Page Numbers
8925 to 8936

Proteins are dynamic objects, constantly undergoing conformational fluctuations, yet the linkage between internal protein motion and function is widely debated. This manuscript reports on the characterization of temperature-activated collective and individual atomic motions of oxidized rubredoxin, a small 53 residue protein from thermophilic Pyrococcus furiosus (RdPf), by neutron scattering and computational simulations. The changes in motion have been explored in connection to their role in promoting reduction of the Fe+3 ion which is responsible for the electron transfer function of RdPf. Just above the dynamical transition temperature of 220 K which marks the onset of significant anharmonic motions of the protein, the computer simulations show both a significant reorientation of the average electrostatic force experienced by the Fe+3 ion and a dramatic rise in its strength. At higher temperatures, additional anharmonic modes become activated which dominate the electrostatic fluctuations experienced by the ion. At 360 K, close to the optimal growth temperature of Pyrococcus furiosus, computer simulations show that three anharmonic modes involving two conserved residues located at the protein active site (Ile7 and Ile40) give rise to the majority of the electrostatic fluctuations experienced by the Fe+3 ion and include displacements which allow solvent access to the ion. The low-frequency, high amplitude motions of these residues at low temperatures may be precursors of the high temperature, anharmonic motions necessary for protein function.