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Electron transfer (ET) is a fundamental process in transition-metal-dependent metalloenzymes. In these enzymes, the spin-spin interactions within the same metal center and/or between different metal sites can play a pivotal role in the catalytic cycle and reactivity. This Perspective highlights that the exchange and/or superexchange interactions can intrinsically modulate the inner-sphere and long-range electron transfer, thus controlling the mechanism and activity of metalloenzymes. For mixed-valence diiron oxygenases, the spin-regulated inner-sphere ET can be dictated by exchange interactions, leading to efficient O-O bond activations. Likewise, the spin-regulated inner-sphere ET can be enhanced by both exchange and superexchange interactions in [Fe4S4]-dependent SAM enzymes, which enable the efficient cleavage of the S─C(γ) or S─C5' bond of SAM. In addition to inner-sphere ET, superexchange interactions may modulate the long-range ET between metalloenzymes. We anticipate that the exchange and superexchange enhanced reactivity could be applicable in other important metalloenzymes, such as Photosystem II and nitrogenases.


Binju Wang, Peng Wu, Sason Shaik. Critical Roles of Exchange and Superexchange Interactions in Dictating Electron Transfer and Reactivity in Metalloenzymes. The journal of physical chemistry letters. 2022 Apr 07;13(13):2871-2877

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PMID: 35325545

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