Unveiling how an archetypal fluorescent protein operates: Theoretical perspective on the ultrafast excited state dynamics of GFP variant S65T/H148D

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Abstract

© 2014 American Chemical Society. Green fluorescent protein variant S65T/H148D has been reported to host a photocycle involving the photoinduced proton transfer reaction between the chromophore and residue Asp148 under 50 fs and without a measurable kinetic isotope effect, and experimental evidence is suggestive of the existence of a highly delocalized proton between these residues. The blinding speed at which this biological system undergoes proton transfer has been ascribed to the extreme increase of acidity of the GFP chromophore in the electronic excited state where proton transfer takes place. This work strives to present a coherent, complete, and balanced description of the dynamics of this specific variant of GFP in which it will be shown that this increase of acidity is insufficient to explain the behavior observed. This study tracks the behavior of this photosystem to the delicate interplay between structure and dynamics shown in the presence of solvent. In this way, it has been found that the dynamics of this protein intertwines its structure with the intervening solvent to give rise to effectively degenerate situations in what concerns the reactants and products of the proton transfer reaction in ground and, most importantly, photoexcited state, in terms of potential energy profiles associated with the proton migration. Under these conditions, proton transfer can occur in accordance with the experimental data available. This set of characteristics is possibly common to a host of other proton transfer based fluorescent proteins, and helps promoting GFP S65T/H148D to a case of archetypal significance. Thus, our results can be useful to understand the way many fluorescent proteins work and, more generally, the molecular basis for proton transfer reactions in proteins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2274-2291
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Volume119
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2015

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