Ultrafast infrared spectroscopy in biomolecules: Active site dynamics of heme proteins

Jeffrey R. Hill, Dana D. Dlott, Chris W. Rella, Todd I. Smith, H. A. Schwettman, Kristen A. Peterson, Alfred Kwok, K. D. Rector, M. D. Fayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid advances in the generation of intense tunable ultrashort mid-infrared (IR) laser pulses allow the use of ultrafast IR pump-probe and vibrational echo experiments to investigate the dynamics of the fundamental vibrational transition of CO bound to the active site of heme proteins. The studies were performed using a free-electron laser (FEL) and an experimental set up at the Stanford University FEL Center. These novel techniques are discussed in some detail. Pump-probe experiments on myoglobin-CO (Mb-CO) measure CO vibrational relaxation (VR). The VR process involves loss of vibrational excitation from CO to the protein and solvent. Infrared vibrational echoes measure CO vibrational dephasing. The quantum mechanical treatment of the force-correlation function description of vibrational dynamics in condensed phases is described briefly. A quantum mechanical treatment is needed to explain the temperature dependence of VR in Mb-CO from 10 to 300 K. A molecular-level description including elements of heme protein structure in the treatment of vibrational dynamics is also discussed. Vibrational relaxation of CO in Mb occurs on the 10-11-s time scale. VR was studied in proteins with single-site mutations, proteins from different species, and model heme compounds. A roughly linear relationship between carbonyl stretching frequency and VR rate has been observed. The dominant VR pathway is shown to involve anharmonic coupling from CO through the π-bonded network of the porphyrin, to porphyrin vibrations with frequencies > 400 cm-1. The heme protein influences VR of bound ligands at the active site primarily via altering the through π-bond coupling between CO and heme. Preliminary vibrational echo studies of the effects of protein conformational relaxation dynamics on ligand dephasing are also reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-299
Number of pages23
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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