A bound iron porphyrin is redox active in hybrid bacterial reaction centers modified to possess a four-helix bundle domain

J. P. Allen, K. D. Chamberlain, T. L. Olson, J. C. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this paper we report the design of hybrid reaction centers with a novel redox-active cofactor. Reaction centers perform the primary photochemistry of photosynthesis, namely the light-induced transfer of an electron from the bacteriochlorophyll dimer to a series of electron acceptors. Hybrid complexes were created by the fusion of an artificial four-helix bundle to the M-subunit of the reaction center. Despite the large modification, optical spectra show that the purified hybrid reaction centers assemble as active complexes that retain the characteristic cofactor absorption peaks and are capable of light-induced charge separation. The four-helix bundle could bind iron-protoporphyrin in either a reduced and oxidized state. After binding iron-protoporphyrin to the hybrid reaction centers, light excitation results in a new derivative signal with a maximum at 402 nm and minimum at 429 nm. This signal increases in amplitude with longer light durations and persists in the dark. No signal is observed when iron-protoporphyrin is added to reaction centers without the four-helix bundle domain or when a redox-inactive zinc-protoporphyrin is bound. The results are consistent with the signal arising from a new redox reaction, electron transfer from the iron-protoporphyrin to the oxidized bacteriochlorophyll dimer. These outcomes demonstrate the feasibility of binding porphyrins to the hybrid reaction centers to gain new light-driven functions. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-99
Number of pages9
JournalPhotochemical and Photobiological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Electron transfer
  • Hemes
  • Photosynthesis
  • Protein design
  • Synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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