Mossbauer and EPR spectroscopies were used to characterize the Fe clusters in an Fe-S protein isolated from Desulfovibrio desulfuricans (ATCC 27774). This protein was previously thought to contain hexanuclear Fe clusters, but a recent X-ray crystallographic measurement on a similar protein isolated from Desulfovibrio vulgaris showed that the protein contains two tetranuclear clusters, a cubane-type [4Fe-4S] cluster and a mixed-ligand cluster of novel structure [Lindley et al. (1997) Abstract, Chemistry of Metals in Biological Systems, European Research Conference, Tomar, Portugal]. Three protein samples poised at different redox potentials (as-purified, 40 and 320 mV) were investigated. In all three samples, the [4Fe-4S] cluster was found to be present in the diamagnetic 2+ oxidation state and exhibited typical Mossbauer spectra. The novel-structure cluster was found to be redox active. In the 320-mV and as-purified samples, the cluster is at a redox equilibrium between its fully oxidized and one-electron reduced states. In the 40-mV sample, the cluster is in a two-electron reduced state. Distinct spectral components associated with the four Fe sites of cluster 2 in the three oxidation states were identified. The spectroscopic parameters obtained for the Fe sites reflect different ligand environments, making it possible to assign the spectral components to individual Fe sites. In the fully oxidized state, all four iron ions are high-spin ferric and antiferromagnetically coupled to form a diamagnetic S = 0 state. In the one-electron and two- electron reduced states, the reducing electrons were found to localize, consecutively, onto two Fe sites that are rich in oxygen/nitrogen ligands. Based on the X-ray structure and the Mossbauer parameters, attempts could be made to identify the reduced Fe sites. For the two-electron reduced cluster, EPR and Mossbauer data indicate that the cluster is paramagnetic with a nonzero interger spin. For the one-electron reduced cluster, the data suggest a half-integer spin of 9/2. Characteristic fine and hyperfine parameters for all four Fe sites were obtained. Structural implications and the nature of the spin-coupling interactions are discussed.
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