American Chemical Society
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Calculation of Proton Transfers in Bacteriorhodopsin bR and M Intermediates

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journal contribution
posted on 2003-08-02, 00:00 authored by Yifan Song, Junjun Mao, M. R. Gunner
Residue ionization states were calculated in nine crystal structures of bacteriorhodopsin trapped in bR, early M, and late M states by multiconformation continuum electrostatics. This combines continuum electrostatics and molecular mechanics, deriving equilibrium distributions of ionization states and polar residue and water positions. The three central cluster groups [retinal Schiff base (SB), Asp 85 and Asp 212] are ionized in bR structures while a proton has transferred from SB+ to Asp 85- in late M structures matching experimental results. The proton shift in M is due to weaker SB+-ionized acid and more favorable SB0-ionized acid interactions following retinal isomerization. The proton release cluster (Glu 194 and Glu 204) binds one proton in bR, which is lost to water by pH 8 in late M. In bR the half-ionized state is stabilized by charge−dipole interactions while full ionization is disallowed by charge−charge repulsion between the closely spaced acids. In M the acids move apart, permitting full ionization. Arg 82 movement connects the proton shifts in the central and proton release clusters. Changes in total charge of the two clusters are coupled by direct long-range interactions. Separate calculations consider continuum or explicit water in internal cavities. The explicit waters and nearby polar residues can reorient to stabilize different charge distributions. Proton release to the low-pH, extracellular side of the protein occurs in these calculations where residue ionization remains at equilibrium with the medium. Thus, the key changes distinguishing the intermediates are indeed trapped in the structures.