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Engineering Multi Step Electron Tunneling Systems in Proteins


Williamson, Heather R. (2013) Engineering Multi Step Electron Tunneling Systems in Proteins. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/BRZJ-YZ76.


Multi-step electron tunneling, or “hopping,” has become a fast-developing research field with studies ranging from theoretical modeling systems, inorganic complexes, to biological systems. In particular, the field is exploring hopping mechanisms in new proteins and protein complexes, as well as further understanding the classical biological hopping systems such as ribonuclease reductase, DNA photolyases, and photosystem II. Despite the plethora of natural systems, only a few biologically engineered systems exist. Engineered hopping systems can provide valuable information on key structural and electronic features, just like other kinds of biological model systems. Also, engineered systems can harness common biologic processes and utilize them for alternative reactions. In this thesis, two new hopping systems are engineered and characterized.

The protein Pseudomonas aeruginosa azurin is used as a building block to create the two new hopping systems. Besides being well studied and amenable to mutation, azurin already has been used to successfully engineer a hopping system. The two hopping systems presented in this thesis have a histidine-attached high potential rhenium 4,7-dimethyl-1,10-phenanthroline tricarbonyl [Re(dmp)(CO)3] + label which, when excited, acts as the initial electron acceptor. The metal donor is the type I copper of the azurin protein. The hopping intermediates are all tryptophan, an amino acid mutated into the azurin at select sites between the photoactive metal label and the protein metal site. One system exhibits an inter-molecular hopping through a protein dimer interface; the other system undergoes intra-molecular multi-hopping utilizing a tryptophan “wire.” The electron transfer reactions are triggered by excitation of the rhenium label and monitored by UV-Visible transient absorption, luminescence decays measurements, and time-resolved Infrared spectroscopy (TRIR). Both systems were structurally characterized by protein X-ray crystallography.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Electron Hopping, Photochemistry, Azurin
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Gray, Harry B.
Thesis Committee:
  • Barton, Jacqueline K. (chair)
  • Stoltz, Brian M.
  • Agapie, Theodor
  • Gray, Harry B.
Defense Date:7 September 2012
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06112013-202017350
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7892
Deposited By: Heather Williamson
Deposited On:22 Sep 2014 17:46
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:02

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