De Novo design of a D2-symmetrical protein that reproduces the Diheme four-helix bundle in cytochrome bc1

Giovanna Ghirlanda, Artur Osyczka, Weixia Liu, Michael Antolovich, Kevin Smith, P. Leslie Dutton, A Joshua Wand, William F Degrado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


An idealized, water-soluble D2-symmetric diheme protein is constructed based on a mathematical parametrization of the backbone coordinates of the transmembrane diheme four-helix bundle in cytochrome bc1. Each heme is coordinated by two His residues from diagonally apposed helices. In the model, the imidazole rings of the His ligands are held in a somewhat unusual perpendicular orientation as found in cytochrome bc1, which is maintained by a second-shell hydrogen bond to a Thr side chain on a neighboring helix. The resulting peptide is unfolded in the apo state but assembles cooperatively upon binding to heme into a well-folded tetramer. Each tetramer binds two hemes with high affinity at low micromolar concentrations. The equilibrium reduction midpoint potential varies between '76 mV and '124 mV vs SHE in the reducing and oxidizing direction, respectively. The EPR spectrum of the ferric complex indicates the presence of a low-spin species, with a gmax value of 3.35 comparable to those obtained for hemes b of cytochrome bc1 (3.79 and 3.44). This provides strong support for the designed perpendicular orientation of the imidazole ligands. Moreover, NMR spectra show that the protein exists in solution in a unique conformation and is amenable to structural studies. This protein may provide a useful scaffold for determining how second-shell ligands affect the redox potential of the heme cofactor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8141-8147
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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