The First State in the Catalytic Cycle of the Water-Oxidizing Enzyme: Identification of a Water-Derived μ-Hydroxo Bridge

J Am Chem Soc. 2017 Oct 18;139(41):14412-14424. doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b05263. Epub 2017 Oct 3.


Nature's water-splitting catalyst, an oxygen-bridged tetramanganese calcium (Mn4O5Ca) complex, sequentially activates two substrate water molecules generating molecular O2. Its reaction cycle is composed of five intermediate (Si) states, where the index i indicates the number of oxidizing equivalents stored by the cofactor. After formation of the S4 state, the product dioxygen is released and the cofactor returns to its lowest oxidation state, S0. Membrane-inlet mass spectrometry measurements suggest that at least one substrate is bound throughout the catalytic cycle, as the rate of 18O-labeled water incorporation into the product O2 is slow, on a millisecond to second time scale depending on the S state. Here, we demonstrate that the Mn4O5Ca complex poised in the S0 state contains an exchangeable hydroxo bridge. On the basis of a combination of magnetic multiresonance (EPR) spectroscopies, comparison to biochemical models and theoretical calculations we assign this bridge to O5, the same bridge identified in the S2 state as an exchangeable fully deprotonated oxo bridge [Pérez Navarro, M.; et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2013, 110, 15561]. This oxygen species is the most probable candidate for the slowly exchanging substrate water in the S0 state. Additional measurements provide new information on the Mn ions that constitute the catalyst. A structural model for the S0 state is proposed that is consistent with available experimental data and explains the observed evolution of water exchange kinetics in the first three states of the catalytic cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't