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The protonation state of residues around the Qo binding site of the cytochrome bc1 complex from Paracoccus denitrificans and their interaction with bound quinone(s) was studied by a combined electrochemical and FTIR difference spectroscopic approach. Site-directed mutations of two groups of conserved residues were investigated: (a) acidic side chains located close to the surface and thought to participate in a water chain leading up to the heme bL edge, and (b) residues located in the vicinity of this site. Interestingly, most of the mutants retain a high degree of catalytic activity. E295Q, E81Q and Y297F showed reduced stigmatellin affinity. On the basis of electrochemically induced FTIR difference spectra, we suggest that E295 and D278 are protonated in the oxidized form or that their mutation perturbs protonated residues. Mutations Y302, Y297, E81 and E295, directly perturb signals from the oxidized quinone and of the protein backbone. By monitoring the interaction with the inhibitor stigmatellin for the wild-type enzyme at various redox states, interactions of the bound stigmatellin with amino acid side chains such as protonated acidic residues and the backbone were observed, as well as difference signals arising from the redox active inhibitor itself and the replaced quinone. The infrared difference spectra of the above Qo site mutations in the presence of stigmatellin confirm the previously established role of E295 as a direct interaction partner in the enzyme from P. denitrificans as well. The protonated residue E295 is proposed to change the hydrogen-bonding environment upon stigmatellin binding in the oxidized form, and is deprotonated in the reduced form. Of the residues located close to the surface, D278 remains protonated and unperturbed in the oxidized form but its frequency shifts in the reduced form. The mechanistic implications of our observations are discussed, together with previous inhibitor binding data, and referred to the published X-ray structures.