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Visualization of the Encounter Ensemble of the Transient Electron Transfer Complex of Cytochrome c and Cytochrome c Peroxidase

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journal contribution
posted on 13.01.2010, 00:00 by Qamar Bashir, Alexander N. Volkov, G. Matthias Ullmann, Marcellus Ubbink
Recent studies have provided experimental evidence for the existence of an encounter complex, a transient intermediate in the formation of protein complexes. We use paramagnetic relaxation enhancement NMR spectroscopy in combination with Monte Carlo simulations to characterize and visualize the ensemble of encounter orientations in the short-lived electron transfer complex of yeast cytochrome c (Cc) and cytochrome c peroxidase (CcP). The complete conformational space sampled by the protein molecules during the dynamic part of the interaction was mapped experimentally. The encounter complex was described by an electrostatic ensemble of orientations based on Monte Carlo calculations, considering the protein structures in atomic detail. We demonstrate that this visualization of the encounter complex, in combination with the specific complex, is in excellent agreement with the experimental data. Our results indicate that Cc samples only about 15% of the surface area of CcP, surrounding the specific binding interface. The encounter complex is populated for 30% of the time, representing a mere 0.5 kcal/mol difference in the free energies between the two states. This delicate balance is interpreted to be a consequence of the conflicting requirements of fast electron transfer and high turnover of the complex.

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