Electron flow between the worlds of Marcus and Warburg

Clare F. Megarity, Bhavin Siritanaratkul, Ryan A. Herold, Giorgio Morello, Fraser A. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Living organisms are characterized by the ability to process energy (all release heat). Redox reactions play a central role in biology, from energy transduction (photosynthesis, respiratory chains) to highly selective catalyzed transformations of complex molecules. Distance and scale are important: electrons transfer on a 1 nm scale, hydrogen nuclei transfer between molecules on a 0.1 nm scale, and extended catalytic processes (cascades) operate most efficiently when the different enzymes are under nanoconfinement (10 nm–100 nm scale). Dynamic electrochemistry experiments (defined broadly within the term “protein film electrochemistry,” PFE) reveal details that are usually hidden in conventional kinetic experiments. In PFE, the enzyme is attached to an electrode, often in an innovative way, and electron-transfer reactions, individual or within steady-state catalytic flow, can be analyzed in terms of precise potentials, proton coupling, cooperativity, driving-force dependence of rates, and reversibility (a mark of efficiency). The electrochemical experiments reveal subtle factors that would have played an essential role in molecular evolution. This article describes how PFE is used to visualize and analyze different aspects of biological redox chemistry, from long-range directional electron transfer to electron/hydride (NADPH) interconversion by a flavoenzyme and finally to NADPH recycling in a nanoconfined enzyme cascade.
Original languageEnglish
Article number225101
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of chemical physics
Issue number22
Early online date8 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2020


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