The diiron center in stearoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) desaturase (DS) from castor plant Ricinus communis catalyzes the dioxygen- and NADPH-dependent introduction of a cis double bond between C9 and C10 of stearoyl-ACP. Radiolytic reduction of diferric DS at 77 K produces an electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR)-detectable mixed-valence center (or [DSox]mv) that is trapped in the conformation of the diferric precursor and thus provides a sensitive EPR/electron nuclear double resonance (ENDOR) probe of the structure of the diamagnetic diiron(III) state. The cryoreduced DS shows two distinct EPR signals, suggesting the presence of two diiron(III) states: the μ-oxo (major)- and μ-hydroxo (minor)-bridged diiron centers. ENDOR studies show that in the dominant oxo-bridged diferric state each iron(III) coordinates a histidine and a water along with other ligands. Samples containing stoichiometric amounts of stearoyl-ACP show pronounced changes in the EPR and 1H ENDOR spectra of cryoreduced DS. EPR spectra of the cryoreduced DS-substrate complex reveal two distinct substates of the parent. EPR and ENDOR studies show that both major conformers of the diferric cluster have a μ-oxo bridge. ENDOR shows that the major conformer has a histidine and a water bound to both Fe ions. In the minor conformer, one of the irons has lost the terminal water ligand. The structure of the trapped [DSox]mv state relaxes upon annealing to 170 K: the μ-oxo bridge in the major cryoreduced DS species protonates on annealing to 170 K; this does not occur for the major DS-substrate complex, even upon annealing to 230 K. The relaxed Fe(II)Fe(III) center in cryoreduced DS and DS-substrate show much less intense and resolved 14N ENDOR spectra than those of the structurally similar cryoreduced diiron center in ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) protein R2. This difference may reflect some differences in His-Fe bonds. The alterations in the diferric site of DS induced by substrate are suggested to be mediated by conformational changes in the polypeptide chain produced by substrate binding. These structural alterations may provide DS with an additional mechanism for tuning the redox potential of the diferric site. The mixed-valence states of DS are unstable at temperatures above 230 K.
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