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Picosecond-Resolved Fluorescence Studies of Substrate and Cofactor-Binding Domain Mutants in a Thermophilic Alcohol Dehydrogenase Uncover an Extended Network of Communication

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Time-resolved fluorescence dynamics are investigated in two mutants of a thermophilic alcohol dehydrogenase (ht-ADH): Y25A (at the dimer interface) and V260A (at the cofactor-binding domain). These residues, ca. 32 Å apart, are shown to exhibit opposing low-temperature effects on the hydride tunneling step. Using single-tryptophan constructs at the active site (Trp87) and a remote, surface-exposed site (Trp167), time-dependent Stokes shifts and collisional quenching data allow an analysis of intra-protein dynamical communication. A double mutant, Y25A:V260A, was also inserted into each single-Trp construct and analyzed accordingly. None of the mutations affect fluorescence lifetimes, Stokes shift relaxation rates, and quenching data for the surface-exposed Trp167 to an appreciable extent. By contrast, fluorescent probes of the active-site tryptophan 87 reveal distinctive forms of dynamical communication. Stokes shifts show that the distal Y25A increases active-site flexibility, V260A introduces a temperature-dependent equilibration process not previously reported by such measurements, and the double mutant (Y25A:V260A) eliminates the temperature-dependent transition sensed by the active-site tryptophan in the presence of V260A. Collisional quenching data at Trp87 further show a structural change in the active-site environment/solvation for V260A. In the aggregate, the temperature dependencies of the fluorescence data are distinct from the breaks in behavior previously reported for catalysis and hydrogen/deuterium exchange, attributed to time scales for the interconversion of protein conformational substates that are slower and more global than the local motions monitored within. An extended network of dynamical communication between the protein dimer surface and substrate- and cofactor-binding domains emerges from the flourescent data.

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