X-ray absorption spectroscopy as a probe of microbial sulfur biochemistry: the nature of bacterial sulfur globules revisited.
ABSTRACT: The chemical nature of the sulfur in bacterial sulfur globules has been the subject of controversy for a number of years. Sulfur K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is a powerful technique for probing the chemical forms of sulfur in situ, but two groups have used it with very different conclusions. The root of the controversy lies with the different detection strategies used by the two groups, which result in very different spectra. This paper seeks to resolve the controversy. We experimentally demonstrate that the use of transmittance detection for sulfur K-edge XAS measurements is highly prone to spectroscopic distortions and that much of the published work on sulfur bacteria is very likely based on distorted data. We also demonstrate that all three detection methods used for X-ray absorption experiments yield essentially identical spectra when the measurements are carried out under conditions where no experimental distortions are expected. Finally, we turn to the original question--the chemical nature of bacterial sulfur. We examine isolated sulfur globules of Allochromatium vinosum and intact cells of a strain of magnetotactic coccus and show that XAS indicates the presence of a chemical form of sulfur resembling S(8).
Project description:The Firmicutes Thermoanaerobacter sulfurigignens and Thermoanaerobacterium thermosulfurigenes convert thiosulfate, forming sulfur globules inside and outside cells. X-ray absorption near-edge structure analysis revealed that the sulfur consisted mainly of sulfur chains with organic end groups similar to sulfur formed in purple sulfur bacteria, suggesting the possibility that the process of sulfur globule formation by bacteria is an ancient feature.
Project description:Sulfur K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) spectra of the monodentate sulfate complexes [MII(itao)(SO4)(H2O)0,1] (M = Co, Ni, Cu) and [Cu(Me6tren)(SO4)] exhibit well-defined preedge transitions at 2479.4, 2479.9, 2478.4, and 2477.7 eV, respectively, despite having no direct metal-sulfur bond, while the XAS preedge of [Zn(itao)(SO4)] is featureless. The sulfur K-edge XAS of [Cu(itao)(SO4)] but not of [Cu(Me6tren)(SO4)] uniquely exhibits a weak transition at 2472.1 eV, an extraordinary 8.7 eV below the first inflection of the rising K-edge. Preedge transitions also appear in the sulfur K-edge XAS of crystalline [MII(SO4)(H2O)] (M = Fe, Co, Ni, and Cu, but not Zn) and in sulfates of higher-valent early transition metals. Ground-state density functional theory (DFT) and time-dependent DFT (TDDFT) calculations show that charge transfer from coordinated sulfate to paramagnetic late transition metals produces spin polarization that differentially mixes the spin-up (?) and spin-down (?) spin orbitals of the sulfate ligand, inducing negative spin density at the sulfate sulfur. Ground-state DFT calculations show that sulfur 3p character then mixes into metal 4s and 4p valence orbitals and various combinations of ligand antibonding orbitals, producing measurable sulfur XAS transitions. TDDFT calculations confirm the presence of XAS preedge features 0.5-2 eV below the rising sulfur K-edge energy. The 2472.1 eV feature arises when orbitals at lower energy than the frontier occupied orbitals with S 3p character mix with the copper(II) electron hole. Transmission of spin polarization and thus of radical character through several bonds between the sulfur and electron hole provides a new mechanism for the counterintuitive appearance of preedge transitions in the XAS spectra of transition-metal oxoanion ligands in the absence of any direct metal-absorber bond. The 2472.1 eV transition is evidence for further radicalization from copper(II), which extends across a hydrogen-bond bridge between sulfate and the itao ligand and involves orbitals at energies below the frontier set. This electronic structure feature provides a direct spectroscopic confirmation of the through-bond electron-transfer mechanism of redox-active metalloproteins.
Project description:The environment of sulfur in dissolved aqueous L-cysteine has been examined using K-edge x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), extended continuum multiple scattering (ECMS) theory, and density functional theory (DFT). For the first time, bound-state and continuum transitions representing the entire XAS spectrum of L-cysteine sulfur are accurately reproduced by theory. Sulfur K-edge absorption features at 2473.3 eV and 2474.2 eV represent transitions to LUMOs that are mixtures of S-C and S-H σ∗ orbitals significantly delocalized over the entire L-cysteine molecule. Continuum features at 2479, 2489, and 2530 eV were successfully reproduced using extended continuum theory. The full L-cysteine sulfur K-edge XAS spectrum could not be reproduced without addition of a water-sulfur hydrogen bond. Density functional theory analysis shows that although the Cys(H)S⋯H-OH hydrogen bond is weak (∼2 kcal) the atomic charge on sulfur is significantly affected by this water. MXAN analysis of hydrogen-bonding structures for L-cysteine and water yielded a best fit model featuring a tandem of two water molecules, 2.9 Å and 5.8 Å from sulfur. The model included a S(cys)⋯H-O(w1)H hydrogen-bond of 2.19 Å and of 2.16 Å for H(2)O(w1)⋯H-O(w2)H. One hydrogen-bonding water-sulfur interaction alone was insufficient to fully describe the continuum XAS spectrum. However, density functional theoretical results are convincing that the water-sulfur interaction is weak and should be only transient in water solution. The durable water-sulfur hydrogen bond in aqueous L-cysteine reported here therefore represents a break with theoretical studies indicating its absence. Reconciling the apparent disparity between theory and result remains the continuing challenge.
Project description:Herein, a systematic study of [L2Fe2S2](n) model complexes (where L = bis(benzimidazolato) and n = 2-, 3-, 4-) has been carried out using iron and sulfur K-edge X-ray absorption (XAS) and iron K? and valence-to-core X-ray emission spectroscopies (XES). These data are used as a test set to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of X-ray core level spectroscopies in assessing redox changes in iron-sulfur clusters. The results are correlated to density functional theory (DFT) calculations of the spectra in order to further support the quantitative information that can be extracted from the experimental data. It is demonstrated that due to canceling effects of covalency and spin state, the information that can be extracted from Fe K? XES mainlines is limited. However, a careful analysis of the Fe K-edge XAS data shows that localized valence vs delocalized valence species may be differentiated on the basis of the pre-edge and K-edge energies. These findings are then applied to existing literature Fe K-edge XAS data on the iron protein, P-cluster, and FeMoco sites of nitrogenase. The ability to assess the extent of delocalization in the iron protein vs the P-cluster is highlighted. In addition, possible charge states for FeMoco on the basis of Fe K-edge XAS data are discussed. This study provides an important reference for future X-ray spectroscopic studies of iron-sulfur clusters.
Project description:We report the first use of K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) as a direct spectroscopic probe of pH and cytosolic emf within living cells. A new accuracy metric of model-based fits to K-edge spectra is further developed. Sulfur functional groups in three collections of living blood cells and one sample of cleared blood plasma from the tunicate Ascidia ceratodes were speciated using K-edge XAS. Cysteine and cystine, the preferred thiol-disulfide model, averaged about 12% of total sulfur. Sulfate monoesters and cyclic diesters unexpectedly constituted 36% of blood cell sulfur. Soluble sulfate averaged about 25% across the three blood cell samples, while the ratio of SO4(2-) to HSO4(-) implied average signet ring vacuolar pH values of 0.85, 1.4, or 3.1. Intracellular (VSO4)(+) was unobserved, while [V(RSO3)n]((3-n)+) was detected in the two lowest pH blood cell samples. About 5% of sulfur was distributed as mono- or dibenzothiophene or ethylene-epi-sulfide, or as a thiadiazole reminiscent of the polycarpathiamines. Blood plasma was dominated by sulfate (83%), but with 15% of an alkylsulfate ester and about 2% of low-valent sulfur. Gravimetric analysis of soluble sulfate yielded average concentrations of blood cell sulfur. Average [cysteine] and [cystine] (ranging ~10-30 mM and ~20-90 mM, respectively) implied blood-cell cytosolic emf values of approximately -0.20 V. High cellular [cysteine] is consistent with the proposed model for enzymatic reduction of vanadate by endogenous thiol, wherein the trajectory of metal site-symmetry is controlled and directed through to a thermodynamically favored 7-coordinate V(III) product.
Project description:In 2008 the rostrum from an ancient warship was recovered from the Mediterranean near Acqualadrone, Sicily. To establish its provenance and condition, samples of black and brown rostrum wood were examined using sulfur K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). GC/MS of pyrolytic volatiles yielded only guaiacyl derivatives, indicating construction from pinewood. A derivatized extract of black wood yielded forms of abietic acid and sandaracopimaric acid consistent with pine pitch waterproofing. Numerical fits to the sulfur K-edge XAS spectra showed that about 65% of the endogenous sulfur consisted of thiols and disulfides. Elemental sulfur was about 2% and 7% in black and brown wood, respectively, while pyritic sulfur was about 12% and 6%. About 2% of the sulfur in both wood types was modeled as trimethylsulfonium, possibly reflecting biogenic (dimethylsulfonio)propionate. High-valent sulfur was exclusively represented by sulfate esters, consistent with bacterial sulfotransferase activity. Traces of chloride were detected, but no free sulfate ion. In summary, the rostrum was manufactured of pine wood and subsequently waterproofed with pine pitch. The subsequent 2300 years included battle, foundering, and marine burial followed by anoxia, bacterial colonization, sulfate reduction, and mobilization of transition metals, which produced pyrite and copious appended sulfur functionality.
Project description:Hydrogen bonding (H-bonding) is generally thought to play an important role in tuning the electronic structure and reactivity of metal-sulfur sites in proteins. To develop a quantitative understanding of this effect, S K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) has been employed to directly probe ligand-metal bond covalency, where it has been found that protein active sites are significantly less covalent than their related model complexes. Sulfur K-edge XAS data are reported here on a series of P450 model complexes with increasing H-bonding to the ligated thiolate from its substituent. The XAS spectroscopic results show a dramatic decrease in preedge intensity. DFT calculations reproduce these effects and show that the observed changes are in fact solely due to H-bonding and not from the inductive effect of the substituent on the thiolate. These calculations also indicate that the H-bonding interaction in these systems is mainly dipolar in nature. The -2.5 kcal/mol energy of the H-bonding interaction was small relative to the large change in ligand-metal bond covalency (30%) observed in the data. A bond decomposition analysis of the total energy is developed to correlate the preedge intensity change to the change in Fe-S bonding interaction on H-bonding. This effect is greater for the reduced than the oxidized state, leading to a 260 mV increase in the redox potential. A simple model shows that E degrees should vary approximately linearly with the covalency of the Fe-S bond in the oxidized state, which can be determined directly from S K-edge XAS.
Project description:The geometric and electronic structure of the active site of the non-heme iron enzyme nitrile hydratase (NHase) is studied using sulfur K-edge XAS and DFT calculations. Using thiolate (RS(-))-, sulfenate (RSO(-))-, and sulfinate (RSO(2)(-))-ligated model complexes to provide benchmark spectral parameters, the results show that the S K-edge XAS is sensitive to the oxidation state of S-containing ligands and that the spectrum of the RSO(-) species changes upon protonation as the S-O bond is elongated (by approximately 0.1 A). These signature features are used to identify the three cysteine residues coordinated to the low-spin Fe(III) in the active site of NHase as CysS(-), CysSOH, and CysSO(2)(-) both in the NO-bound inactive form and in the photolyzed active form. These results are correlated to geometry-optimized DFT calculations. The pre-edge region of the X-ray absorption spectrum is sensitive to the Z(eff) of the Fe and reveals that the Fe in [FeNO](6) NHase species has a Z(eff) very similar to that of its photolyzed Fe(III) counterpart. DFT calculations reveal that this results from the strong pi back-bonding into the pi antibonding orbital of NO, which shifts significant charge from the formally t(2)(6) low-spin metal to the coordinated NO.
Project description:Elemental sulfur (S(0)) is an important intermediate of the sulfur cycle and is generated by chemical and biological sulfide oxidation. Raman spectromicroscopy can be applied to environmental samples for the detection of S(0), as a practical non-destructive micron-scale method for use on wet material and living cells. Technical advances in filter materials enable the acquisition of ultra-low frequency (ULF) Raman measurements in the 10-100?cm<sup>-1</sup> range using a single-stage spectrometer. Here we demonstrate the potency of ULF Raman spectromicroscopy to harness the external vibrational modes of previously unrecognized S(0) structures present in environmental samples. We investigate the chemical and structural nature of intracellular S(0) granules stored within environmental mats of sulfur-oxidizing ?-Proteobacteria (Thiothrix). In vivo intracellular ULF scans indicate the presence of amorphous cyclooctasulfur (S<sub>8</sub>), clarifying enduring uncertainties regarding the content of microbial sulfur storage globules. Raman scattering of extracellular sulfur clusters in Thiothrix mats furthermore reveals an unexpected abundance of metastable ?-S<sub>8</sub> and ?-S<sub>8</sub>, in addition to the stable ?-S<sub>8</sub> allotrope. We propose ULF Raman spectroscopy as a powerful method for the micron-scale determination of S(0) structure in natural and laboratory systems, with a promising potential to shine new light on environmental microbial and chemical sulfur cycling mechanisms.
Project description:Molybdenum- or tungsten-containing enzymes catalyze oxygen atom transfer reactions involved in carbon, sulfur, or nitrogen metabolism. It has been observed that reduction potentials and oxygen atom transfer rates are different for W relative to Mo enzymes and the isostructural Mo/W complexes. Sulfur K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and density functional theory (DFT) calculations on [Mo(V)O(bdt)(2)](-) and [W(V)O(bdt)(2)](-), where bdt=benzene-1,2-dithiolate(2-), have been used to determine that the energies of the half-filled redox-active orbital, and thus the reduction potentials and MO bond strengths, are different for these complexes due to relativistic effects in the W sites.