Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Sandra S. Eaton, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Judith Snyder

Third Advisor

Michelle Knowles

Fourth Advisor

Andrei Kutateladze

Fifth Advisor

Donald Stedman


DEER, Double electron-electron resonance, Electron transfer flavoprotein, EPR, Electron paramagnetic resonance, Potentiometric titrations


The mitochondrial matrix flavoproteins electron transfer flavoprotein (ETF) and electron transfer flavoprotein-ubiquinone oxidoreductase (ETF-QO) are responsible for linking fatty acid β-oxidation with the main mitochondrial respiratory chain. Electrons derived from flavoprotein dehydrogenases are transferred sequentially through ETF and ETF-QO to ubiquinone and then into the respiratory chain via complex III. In this study, the effects of changes in ETF-QO redox potentials on its activity and the conformational flexibility of ETF were investigated.

ETF-QO contains one [4Fe-4S]2+,1+ and one flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). In the porcine protein, threonine 367 is hydrogen bonded to N1 and O2 of the flavin ring of the FAD. The analogous site in Rhodobacter sphaeroides ETF-QO is asparagine 338. Mutations N338T and N338A were introduced into the R. sphaeroides protein by site-directed mutagenesis to determine the impact of hydrogen bonding at this site on redox potentials and activity. FAD redox potentials were measured by potentiometric titration probed by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. The N338T and N338A mutations lowered the midpoint potentials, which resulted in a decrease in the quinone reductase activity and negligible impact on disproportionation of ETF1e- catalyzed by ETF-QO. These observations indicate that the FAD is involved in electron transfer to ubiquinone, but not in electron transfer from ETF to ETF-QO. Therefore it is proposed that the iron-sulfur cluster is the immediate acceptor from ETF.

It has been proposed that the αII domain of ETF is mobile, allowing promiscuous interactions with structurally different partners. Double electron-electron resonance (DEER) was used to measure the distance between spin labels at various sites and an enzymatically reduced FAD cofactor in Paracoccus denitrificans ETF. Two or three interspin distance distributions were observed for spin-labels in the αI (A43C) and βIII (A111C) domains, but only one is observed for a label in the βII (A210C) domain. This suggests that the αII domain adopts several stable conformations which may correspond to a closed/inactive conformation and an open/active conformation. An additional mutation, E162A, was introduced to increase the mobility of the αII domain. The E162A mutation doubled the activity compared to wild-type and caused the distance distributions to become wider. The DEER method has the potential to characterize conformational changes in ETF that occur when it interacts with various redox partners.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Michael Anthony Swanson


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

175 p.


Biochemistry, Physical Chemistry