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Electrostatic profiling of photosynthetic pigments: implications for directed spectral tuning

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Sirohiwal,  Abhishek
Research Group Pantazis, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Max Planck Society;

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Pantazis,  Dimitrios A.
Research Group Pantazis, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Sirohiwal, A., & Pantazis, D. A. (2021). Electrostatic profiling of photosynthetic pigments: implications for directed spectral tuning. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 23(43), 24677-24684. doi:10.1039/D1CP02580E.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-7B5D-6
Abstract
Photosynthetic pigment–protein complexes harvest solar energy with a high quantum efficiency. Protein scaffolds are known to tune the spectral properties of embedded pigments principally through structured electrostatic environments. Although the physical nature of electrostatic tuning is straightforward, the precise spatial principles of electrostatic preorganization remain poorly explored for different protein matrices and incompletely characterized with respect to the intrinsic properties of different photosynthetic pigments. In this work, we study the electronic structure features associated with the lowest excited state of a series of eight naturally occurring (bacterio)chlorophylls and pheophytins to describe the precise topological differences in electrostatic potentials and hence determine intrinsic differences in the expected mode and impact of electrostatic tuning. The difference electrostatic potentials between the ground and first excited states are used as fingerprints. Both the spatial profile and the propensity for spectral tuning are found to be unique for each pigment, indicating spatially and directionally distinct modes of electrostatic tuning. The results define a specific partitioning of the protein matrix around each pigment as an aid to identify regions with a maximal impact on spectral tuning and have direct implications for dimensionality reduction in protein design and engineering. Thus, a quantum mechanical basis is provided for understanding, predicting, and ultimately designing sequence-modified or pigment-exchanged biological systems, as suggested for selected examples of pigment-reconstituted proteins.