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Cytochrome (cyt) c is an important electron transfer protein. The ruffling deformation of its heme cofactor has been suggested to relate to its electron transfer rate. However, there is no direct experimental evidence demonstrating this correlation. In this work, we studied Pseudomonas aeruginosa cytochrome c551 and its F7A mutant. These two proteins, although similar in their X-ray crystal structure, display a significant difference in their heme outof- plane deformations, mainly along the ruffling coordinate. Resonance Raman and vibrational coherence measurements also indicate significant differences in ruffling-sensitive modes, particularly the low-frequency γa mode found between ~50-60 cm-1. This supports previous assignments of γa as having a large ruffling content. Measurement of the photoreduction kinetics finds an order of magnitude decrease of the photoreduction cross-section in the F7A mutant, which has nearly twice the ruffling deformation as the WT. Additional measurements on cytochrome c demonstrate that heme ruffling is correlated exponentially with the electron transfer rates and suggest that ruffling could play an important role in redox control. A major relaxation of heme ruffling in cytochrome c, upon binding to the mitochondrial membrane, is discussed in this context.


Sun, Y., Benabbas, A., Zeng, W., Kleingardner, J. G., Bren, K. L., & Champion, P. M. (2014). Investigations of heme distortion, low-frequency vibrational excitations, and electron transfer in cytochrome c. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(18), 6570–6575.