Interaction of methanol with the oxygen-evolving complex: atomistic models, channel identification, species dependence, and mechanistic implications†
Methanol has long being used as a substrate analogue to probe access pathways and investigate water delivery at the oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) of photosystem-II. In this contribution we study the interaction of methanol with the OEC by assembling available spectroscopic data into a quantum mechanical treatment that takes into account the local channel architecture of the active site. The effect on the magnetic energy levels of the Mn4Ca cluster in the S2 state of the catalytic cycle can be explained equally well by two models that involve either methanol binding to the calcium ion of the cluster, or a second-sphere interaction in the vicinity of the “dangler” Mn4 ion. However, consideration of the latest 13C hyperfine interaction data shows that only one model is fully consistent with experiment. In contrast to previous hypotheses, methanol is not a direct ligand to the OEC, but is situated at the end-point of a water channel associated with the O4 bridge. Its effect on magnetic properties of plant PS-II results from disruption of hydrogen bonding between O4 and proximal channel water molecules, thus enhancing superexchange (antiferromagnetic coupling) between the Mn3 and Mn4 ions. The same interaction mode applies to the dark-stable S1 state and possibly to all other states of the complex. Comparison of protein sequences from cyanobacteria and plants reveals a channel-altering substitution (D1-Asn87 versus D1-Ala87) in the proximity of the methanol binding pocket, explaining the species-dependence of the methanol effect. The water channel established as the methanol access pathway is the same that delivers ammonia to the Mn4 ion, supporting the notion that this is the only directly solvent-accessible manganese site of the OEC. The results support the pivot mechanism for water binding at a component of the S3 state and would be consistent with partial inhibition of water delivery by methanol. Mechanistic implications for enzymatic regulation and catalytic progression are discussed.