, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 73-86

Comparative redox and pK a calculations on cytochrome c 3 from several Desulfovibrio species using continuum electrostatic methods

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 A comparative study of the pH-dependent redox mechanisms of several members of the cytochrome c 3 family has been carried out. In a previous work, the molecular determinants of this dependency (the so-called redox-Bohr effect) were investigated for one species using continuum electrostatic methods to find groups with a titrating range and strength of interaction compatible with a mediating role in the redox-Bohr effect. Here we clarify these aspects in the light of new and improved pK a calculations, our findings supporting the hypothesis of propionate D from heme I being the main effector in the pH-dependent modulation of the cytochrome c 3 redox potentials in all the c 3 molecules studied here. However, the weaker (but significant) role of other titrating groups cannot be excluded, their importance and identity changing with the particular molecule under study. We also calculate the relative redox potentials of the four heme centers among the selected members of the c 3 family, using a continuum electrostatic method that takes into account both solvation and interaction effects. Comparison of the calculated values with available data for the microscopic redox potentials was undertaken, the quality of the agreement being dependent upon the choice of the dielectric constant for the protein interior. We find that high dielectric constants give best correlations, while low values result in better magnitudes for the calculated potentials. The possibility that the crystallographic calcium ion in c 3 from Desulfovibrio gigas may be present in the solution structure was tested, and found to be likely.

Received: 31 August 1998 / Accepted: 20 November 1998