Solvent dynamics play a decisive role in the complex formation of biologically relevant redox proteins†
Electron transfer processes between proteins are vital in many biological systems. Yet, the role of the solvent in influencing these redox reactions remains largely unknown. In this study, terahertz-time domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS) is used to probe the collective hydration dynamics of flavoenzyme ferredoxin-NADP+-reductase (FNR), electron transfer protein ferredoxin-1 (PetF), and the transient complex that results from their interaction. Results reveal changes in the sub-picosecond hydration dynamics that are dependent upon the surface electrostatic properties of the individual proteins and the transient complex. Retarded solvent dynamics of 8–9 ps are observed for FNR, PetF, and the FNR:PetF transient complex. Binding of the FNR:PetF complex to the substrate NADP+ results in bulk-like solvent dynamics of 7 ps, showing that formation of the ternary complex is entropically favored. Our THz measurements reveal that the electrostatic interaction of the protein surface with water results in charge sensitive changes in the solvent dynamics. Complex formation between the positively charged FNR:NADP+ pre-complex and the negatively charged PetF is not only entropically favored, but in addition the solvent reorganization into more bulk-like water assists the molecular recognition process. The change in hydration dynamics observed here suggests that the interaction with the solvent plays a significant role in mediating electron transfer processes between proteins.