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Understanding flavin electronic structure and spectra

Kar, Rajiv K.; Miller, Anne-Frances; Mroginski, Maria-Andrea

FG Modellierung biomolekularer Systeme

Flavins have emerged as central to electron bifurcation, signaling, and countless enzymatic reactions. In bifurcation, two electrons acquired as a pair are separated in coupled transfers wherein the energy of both is concentrated on one of the two. This enables organisms to drive demanding reactions based on abundant low-grade chemical fuel. To enable incorporation of this and other flavin capabilities into designed materials and devices, it is essential to understand fundamental principles of flavin electronic structure that make flavins so reactive and tunable by interactions with protein. Emerging computational tools can now replicate spectra of flavins and are gaining capacity to explain reactivity at atomistic resolution, based on electronic structures. Such fundamental understanding can moreover be transferrable to other chemical systems. A variety of computational innovations have been critical in reproducing experimental properties of flavins including their electronic spectra, vibrational signatures, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) chemical shifts. A computational toolbox for understanding flavin reactivity moreover must be able to treat all five oxidation and protonation states, in addition to excited states that participate in flavoprotein's light-driven reactions. Therefore, we compare emerging hybrid strategies and their successes in replicating effects of hydrogen bonding, the surrounding dielectric, and local electrostatics. These contribute to the protein's ability to modulate flavin reactivity, so we conclude with a survey of methods for incorporating the effects of the protein residues explicitly, as well as local dynamics. Computation is poised to elucidate the factors that affect a bound flavin's ability to mediate stunningly diverse reactions, and make life possible.