Microscopic Picture of the Solvent Reorganization During Electron Transfer to Flavin in Water

The redox potential of molecular species is largely modulated by its molecular environment so that a change of the environment will lead to a different redox potential. However, a detailed molecular picture of reorganization of the environment upon reduction is still unclear. To unravel the details of the solvent reorganization during electron transfer, we have performed density functional theory-based molecular dynamics (DFT-MD) and hybrid quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) simulations of the reduction of lumiflavin. Previously, we have calculated the reduction free energy curves of the redox half reactions of lumiflavin in water as a function of the instantaneous gap energy (Delta E) (J. Chem. Theory Comput. 2013, 9, 3889-3899). In this work, we focus on finding the changes in the solvent environment that correlate with this Delta E reaction coordinate. Comparing the QM/MM simulations, in which the solvent is modeled with an empirical force field, with the (full) DFT-MD simulations, we find that the response through electronic polarization plays a significant role in the latter case. Also a small charge transfer between flavin and solvent is observed in the full DFT treatment. As a result, we find only in the case of the QM/MM model a strong correlation between Delta E and the (pairwise computed) electrostatic potential (ESP) at the flavin due to the solvent. By analyzing the contribution of the ESP at the flavin per solvent molecule, we cannot only distinguish between the different modes of hydration by solvent molecules that coordinate at the hydrophilic and hydrophobic sides of the flavin molecule but also quantify their contribution to the reorganization free energy by measuring the ESP fluctuations per solvent molecule.

Published in:
Journal Of Physical Chemistry B, 123, 46, 9751-9761
Nov 21 2019

 Record created 2019-12-13, last modified 2020-04-20

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