The dipole moment of the electron carrier adrenodoxin is not critical for redox partner interaction and electron transfer


  • F. Hannemann
  • A. Guyot
  • A. Zoellner
  • J.J. Mueller
  • U. Heinemann
  • R. Bernhardt


  • Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry


  • J Inorg Biochem 103 (7): 997-1004


  • Dipole moments of proteins arise from helical dipoles, hydrogen bond networks and charged groups at the protein surface. High protein dipole moments were suggested to contribute to the electrostatic steering between redox partners in electron transport chains of respiration, photosynthesis and steroid biosynthesis, although so far experimental evidence for this hypothesis was missing. In order to probe this assumption, we changed the dipole moment of the electron transfer protein adrenodoxin and investigated the influence of this on protein-protein interactions and electron transfer. In bovine adrenodoxin, the [2Fe-2S] ferredoxin of the adrenal glands, a dipole moment of 803 Debye was calculated for a full-length adrenodoxin model based on the Adx(4-108) and the wild type adrenodoxin crystal structures. Large distances and asymmetric distribution of the charged residues in the molecule mainly determine the observed high value. In order to analyse the influence of the resulting inhomogeneous electric field on the biological function of this electron carrier the molecular dipole moment was systematically changed. Five recombinant adrenodoxin mutants with successively reduced dipole moment (from 600 to 200 Debye) were analysed for their redox properties, their binding affinities to the redox partner proteins and for their function during electron transfer-dependent steroid hydroxylation. None of the mutants, not even the quadruple mutant K6E/K22Q/K24Q/K98E with a dipole moment reduced by about 70% showed significant changes in the protein function as compared with the unmodified adrenodoxin demonstrating that neither the formation of the transient complex nor the biological activity of the electron transfer chain of the endocrine glands was affected. This is the first experimental evidence that the high dipole moment observed in electron transfer proteins is not involved in electrostatic steering among the proteins in the redox chain.