Charge-density analysis of an iron-sulfur protein at an ultra-high resolution of 0.48 Å

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Abstract

The fine structures of proteins, such as the positions of hydrogen atoms, distributions of valence electrons and orientations of bound waters, are critical factors for determining the dynamic and chemical properties of proteins. Such information cannot be obtained by conventional protein X-ray analyses at 3.0-1.5 Å resolution, in which amino acids are fitted into atomically unresolved electron-density maps and refinement calculations are performed under strong restraints1,2. Therefore, we usually supplement the information on hydrogen atoms and valence electrons in proteins with pre-existing common knowledge obtained by chemistry in small molecules. However, even now, computational calculation of such information with quantum chemistry also tends to be difficult, especially for polynuclear metalloproteins3. Here we report a charge-density analysis of the high-potential iron-sulfur protein from the thermophilic purple bacteriumThermochromatium tepidumusing X-ray data at an ultra-high resolution of 0.48 Å. Residual electron densities in the conventional refinement are assigned as valence electrons in the multipolar refinement. Iron 3dand sulfur 3pelectron densities of the Fe4S4 cluster are visualized around the atoms. Such information provides the most detailed view of the valence electrons of the metal complex in the protein. The asymmetry of the iron-sulfur cluster and the protein environment suggests the structural basis of charge storing on electron transfer. Our charge-density analysis reveals many fine features around the metal complex for the first time, and will enable further theoretical and experimental studies of metalloproteins.

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