The proposed work involves density functional theory (DFT) calculations of geometric and electronic structure, electrostatics calculations, and quantum mechanics molecular mechanics molecular dynamics (QM/MM/MD) simulations to provide a detailed mechanistic understanding of the catalytic reaction pathways in B-type cytochrome c oxidases, comparing also to A-type cytochrome c oxidases (CcO's).
Aim 1. To develop a quantum/electrostatic model explaining how chemical bonding and proton/electron flow to molecular oxygen within the Fe-Cu dinuclear complex (DNC) leads to proton pumping across the membrane. QM/MM/MD studies will provide insights into dynamic processes of proton transfer within and the proton exit channel from the DNC.
Aim 2. Detection and characterization of peroxo bridged Fe-Cu species will be related to corresponding electronic states from DFT. DFT calculations of vibrational spectra and other electronic properties (Mossbauer and optical) will be performed for comparisons with experimental spectroscopies.
Aim 3. The K-pathway for proton transfer into the dinuclear Fe-Cu complex will be analyzed using DFT/electrostatics and QM/MM/MD methods.
Aim 4. We will further develop current methodologies to improve the quality of DFT calculations for these large active site models, to analyze dynamic processes with QM/MM/MD, and for the physical description of the remaining protein/membrane/aqueous solvent environment. Cytochrome c oxidase (Complex IV) of mitochondria links electron transfer through the electron transport chain to proton pumping across the inner membrane of the mitochondria, and similarly, across the plasma membrane in most aerobic bacteria. This is the proton motive force utilized for ATP production. Mitochondrial CcO's play an essential role in human health because adequate ATP supplies are required for most important metabolic functions. Also, disruptions in electron or proton transfer reactions or oxygen binding at CcO can lead the production of damaging reactive oxygen species including hydroxyl and superoxide radicals, and hydrogen peroxide. Understanding the structures, mechanisms, and functions of mitochondrial CcO's is important for better analysis of many genetic and metabolic diseases and cancers, and is also relevant to pathologies of aging.

Public Health Relevance

We are using methods from quantum chemistry, electrostatics, and molecular dynamics to obtain a detailed mechanistic understanding of how oxygen binding and electron/proton flow into cytochrome c oxidase leads to proton pumping across the inner membrane of mitochondria in humans, and similarly across the plasma membrane in most aerobic bacteria. The proton motive force generated is used for ATP production, and defects in this enzyme harm energy production, and also can generate reactive radical oxygen species. Defects in mitochondrial metabolism are associated with many metabolic diseases, cancers, and pathologies of aging, so analyzing this molecular machine has great significance.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BCMB-N (02))
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Anderson, Vernon
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Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla
United States
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