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Identifying the proton loading site cluster in the ba(3) cytochrome c oxidase that loads and traps protons

  • Cai, Xiuhong
  • Mao, Junjun
  • Kaur, Divya
  • Zhang, Yingying
  • Khaniya, Umesh
  • Cui, Qiang
  • Gunner, Marylin R.
Publication Date
Aug 24, 2020
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Cytochrome c Oxidase (CcO) is the terminal electron acceptor in aerobic respiratory chain, reducing O-2 to water. The released free energy is stored by pumping protons through the protein, maintaining the transmembrane electrochemical gradient. Protons are held transiently in a proton loading site (PLS) that binds and releases protons driven by the electron transfer reaction cycle. Multi-Conformation Continuum Electrostatics (MCCE) was applied to crystal structures and Molecular Dynamics snapshots of the B-type Thermus thermophilus CcO. Six residues are identified as the PLS, binding and releasing protons as the charges on heme b and the binuclear center are changed: the heme a(3) propionic acids, Asp287, Asp372, His376 and G1u126B. The unloaded state has one proton and the loaded state two protons on these six residues. Different input structures, modifying the PLS conformation, show different proton distributions and result in different proton pumping behaviors. One loaded and one unloaded protonation states have the loaded/unloaded states close in energy so the PLS binds and releases a proton through the reaction cycle. The alternative proton distributions have state energies too far apart to be shifted by the electron transfers so are locked in loaded or unloaded states. Here the protein can use active states to load and unload protons, but has nearby trapped states, which stabilize PLS protonation state, providing new ideas about the CcO proton pumping mechanism. The distance between the PLS residues Asp287 and His376 correlates with the energy difference between loaded and unloaded states. / 1 / N

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