Importance of the iron–sulfur component and of the siroheme modification in the resting state of sulfite reductase

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The active site of sulfite reductase (SiR) consists of an unusual siroheme–Fe4S4 assembly coupled via a cysteinate sulfur, and serves for multi-electron reduction reactions. Clear explanations have not been demonstrated for the reasons behind the choice of siroheme (vs. other types of heme) or for the single-atom coupling to an Fe4S4 center (as opposed to simple adjacency or to coupling via chains consisting of more than one atom). Possible explanations for these choices have previously been invoked, relating to the control of the spin state of the substrate-binding (siro)heme iron, modulation of the trans effect of the (Fe4S4–bound) cysteinate, or modulation of the redox potential. Reported here is a density functional theory (DFT) investigation of the structural interplay (in terms of geometry, molecular orbitals and magnetic interactions) between the siroheme and the Fe4S4 center as well as the importance of the covalent modifications within siroheme compared to the more common heme b, aiming to verify the role of the siroheme modification and of the Fe4S4 cluster at the SiR active site, with focus on previously-formulated hypotheses (geometrical/sterics, spin state, redox and electron-transfer control). A calibration of various DFT methods/variants for the correct description of ground state spin multiplicity is performed using a set of problematic cases of bioinorganic Fe centers; out of 11 functionals tested, M06-L and B3LYP offer the best results – though none of them correctly predict the spin state for all test cases. Upon examination of the relative energies of spin states, reduction potentials, energy decomposition (electrostatic, exchange-repulsion, orbital relaxation, correlation and dispersion interactions) and Mayer bond indices in SiR models, the following main roles of the siroheme and cubane are identified: (1) the cubane cofactor decreases the reduction potential of the siroheme and stabilizes the siroheme–cysteine bond interaction, and (2) the siroheme removes the quasi-degeneracy between the intermediate and high-spin states found in ferrous systems by preserving the latter as ground state; the higher-spin preference and the increased accessibility of multiple spin states are likely to be important in selective binding of the substrate and of the subsequent reaction intermediates, and in efficient changes in redox states throughout the catalytic cycle.


  • Adrian M.V. Brânzanic
  • Ulf Ryde
  • Radu Silaghi-Dumitrescu
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Babes Bolyai University

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Oorganisk kemi
TidskriftJournal of Inorganic Biochemistry
StatusPublished - 2020
Peer review utfördJa