Coupling Coherence Distinguishes Structure Sensitivity in Protein Electron Transfer

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Quantum mechanical analysis of electron tunneling in nine thermally fluctuating cytochrome b562 derivatives reveals two distinct protein-mediated coupling limits. A structure-insensitive regime arises for redox partners coupled through dynamically averaged multiple-coupling pathways (in seven of the nine derivatives) where heme-edge coupling leads to the multiple-pathway regime. A structure-dependent limit governs redox partners coupled through a dominant pathway (in two of the nine derivatives) where axial-ligand coupling generates the single-pathway limit and slower rates. This two-regime paradigm provides a unified description of electron transfer rates in 26 ruthenium-modified heme and blue-copper proteins, as well as in numerous photosynthetic proteins.

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