Nitric oxide myoglobin (MbNO) at 300 K was photodissociated with 405 nm pulses. The NO recombination in several mutants of iron and cobalt myoglobins was investigated at a time resolution of ca. 70 fs. The geminate recombination of NO was nonexponential on sub-nanosecond time scales. For both metals, the change of the detailed structure of the heme pocket (position 68 mutations) caused significant changes in the rates of recombination; however, the metal substitution influenced the recombination much less than did amino acid substitution. The results indicate a primary role of the heme pocket structure in the dynamics, and they suggest that proximal protein relaxation is not the limiting factor in the geminate recombination process. Recombination in cobalt derivatives is somewhat more efficient on the sub-nanosecond time scales than in corresponding iron myoglobins, consistent with other results that show a greater intrinsic reactivity toward the NO of cobalt compared with the iron heme. A comparison of results using Soret band excitation with previous Q-state excitation studies demonstrates that the ligand dissociates with a similar kinetic energy in both cases, suggesting fast intramolecular energy redistribution before dissociation.
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