The catalytic activity of heme-regulated phosphodiesterase from Escherichia coli (Ec DOS) on cyclic di-GMP is markedly enhanced upon binding of gas molecules, such as O2 and CO, to the heme iron complex in the sensor domain. Arg97 interacts directly with O2 bound to Fe(II) heme in the crystal structure of the isolated heme-bound sensor domain with the PAS structure (Ec DOS-PAS) and may thus be critical in ligand recognition. To establish the specific role of Arg97, we generated Arg97 Ala, Arg97Glu, and Arg97Ile mutant Ec DOS-PAS proteins and examined binding to O2, CO, and cyanide, as well as redox potentials. The autoxidation rates of the Arg97Ala and Arg97Glu mutant proteins were up to 2000-fold higher, while the O 2 dissociation rate constant for dissociation from the Fe(II)-O 2 heme complex of the Arg97Ile mutant was 100-fold higher than that of the wild-type protein. In contrast, the redox potential values of the mutant proteins were only slightly different from that of the wild type (within 10 mV). Accordingly, we propose that Arg97 plays critical roles in recognition of the O2 molecule and redox switching by stabilizing the Fe(II)-O 2 complex, thereby anchoring O2 to the heme iron and lowering the autoxidation rate to prevent formation of Fe(III) hemin species not regulated by gas molecules. Arg97 mutations significantly influenced interactions with the internal ligand Met95, during CO binding to the Fe(II) complex. Moreover, the binding behavior of cyanide to the Fe(III) complexes of the Arg mutant proteins was similar to that of O2, which is evident from the Kd values, suggestive of electrostatic interactions between cyanide and Arg97.
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