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Photochemically Induced Electron Transfer

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/meth.2001.1175
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


Abstract Biochemical reactions involving electron transfer between substrates or enzyme cofactors are both common and physiologically important; they have been studied by means of a variety of techniques. In this paper we review the application of photochemical methods to the study of intramolecular electron transfer in hemoproteins, thus selecting a small, well-defined sector of this otherwise enormous field. Photoexcitation of the heme populates short-lived excited states which decay by thermal conversion and do not usually transfer electrons, even when a suitable electron acceptor is readily available, e.g., in the form of a second oxidized heme group in the same protein; because of this, the experimental setup demands some manipulation of the hemoprotein. In this paper we review three approaches that have been studied in detail: (i) the covalent conjugation to the protein moiety of an organic ruthenium complex, which serves as the photoexcitable electron donor (in this case the heme acts as the electron acceptor); (ii) the replacement of the heme group with a phosphorescent metal-substituted porphyrin, which on photoexcitation populates long-lived excited states, capable of acting as electron donors (clearly the protein must contain some other cofactor acting as the electron acceptor, most often a second heme group in the oxidized state); (iii) the combination of the reduced heme with CO (the photochemical breakdown of the iron-CO bond yields transiently the ground-state reduced heme which is able to transfer one electron (or a fraction of it) to an oxidized electron acceptor in the protein; this method uses a “mixed-valence hybrid” state of the redox active hemoprotein and has the great advantage of populating on photoexcitation an electron donor at physiological redox potential).

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