The effect of protein environment on electronically excited and ionized states of the green fluorescent protein chromophore
The effect of the protein environment on the electronic structure of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) chromophore is investigated by QM/MM (quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics) calculations. The protein has negligible effect on the excitation energy of the bright absorbing and the lowest triplet states of the anionic GFP chromophore, deprotonated 4-hydroxybenzylidene-2,3-dimethylimidazolinone (HBDI) anion, however, it increases vertical detachment energy from 2.5 eV (gas-phase deprotonated HBDI anion) to 4.8 eV (solvated protein). We also investigated possible existence of the charge-transfer-to-solvent (CTTS) states associated with the GFP chromophore. Although precursors of such states appear in cluster calculations, a tightly packed structure of the protein prevents the formation of the CTTS states in this system. Motivated by recently discovered new type of photoconversion, oxidative redding, we characterized the redox properties of GFP. The computed standard reduction potential of the anionic form of GFP is 0.27 V.