The proposed structure of Photosystem I depicts two cysteines on the PsaA polypeptide and two cysteines on the PsaB polypeptide in a symmetrical environment, each providing ligands for the interpolypeptide Fx cluster. We studied the role of Fx in electron transfer by substituting serine for cysteine (C565SPsaB and C556SPsaB), thereby introducing the first example of a genetically engineered, mixed-ligand [4Fe-4S] cluster into a protein. Optical kinetic spectroscopy shows that after a single-turnover flash at 298 K, the contribution of A1- (lifetime of 10 microseconds, 40% of total and lifetime of 100 microseconds, 20% of total) and Fx- (lifetime of 500–800 microseconds, 10–15% of total) to the overall P700+ back reaction have increased in C565SPsaB and C556SPsaB at the expense of the back reaction from [FA/FB]-. The electron paramagnetic resonance spectrum of Fx shows g-values of 2.04, 1.94, and 1.81 in both mutants and a similarly decreased amount of FA and FB reduced at 15 K after a single-turnover flash. These results indicate that the mixed-ligand (3 cysteines, 1 serine) Fx cluster is an inefficient electron carrier, but that a small leak through Fx still permits FA and FB to be reduced quantitatively when the samples are frozen during continuous illumination. The data confirm that Fx is a necessary intermediate in the electron transfer pathway from A1 to FA and FB in Photosystem I.
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