One Protein, Two Chromophores: Comparative Spectroscopic Characterization of 6,7-Dimethyl-8-ribityllumazine and Riboflavin Bound to Lumazine Protein

We investigated the lumazine protein from Photobacterium leiognathi in complex with its biologically active cofactor, 6,7-dimethyl-8-ribityllumazine, at different redox states and compared the results with samples containing a riboflavin cofactor. Using anaerobic photoreduction, we were able to record optical absorption kinetics from both cofactors in similar protein environments. It could be demonstrated that the protein is able to stabilize a neutral ribolumazine radical with ∼35% yield. The ribolumazine radical state was further investigated by W-band continuous-wave EPR and X-band pulsed ENDOR spectroscopy. Here, both the principal values of the g-tensor and an almost complete mapping of the proton hyperfine couplings (hfcs) could be obtained. Remarkably, the g-tensor’s principal components are similar to those of the respective riboflavin-containing protein; however, the proton hfcs show noticeable differences. Comparing time-resolved optical absorption and fluorescence data from ribolumazine-containing samples, solely fluorescence but no signs of any intermediate radical or a triplet state could be identified. This is in contrast to lumazine protein samples containing the riboflavin cofactor, for which a high yield of the photogenerated triplet state and some excited flavin radical could be detected using time-resolved spectroscopy. These results clearly demonstrate that ribolumazine is a redox-active molecule and could, in principle, be employed as a cofactor in other enzymatic reactions.