Stark-effect experiments on photochemical holes in chromoproteins: Protoporphyrin IX-substituted myoglobin

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We performed comparative Stark-effect experiments on spectral holes in a protein and a glass sample. The protein was protoporphyrin IX-substituted myoglobin in a glycerol/water solvent. The glass sample was a protoporphyrin IX-doped mixture of dimethylformamide/glycerol. As expected, in both cases the spectral holes varied linearly with the electric field. Yet, whereas in the protein the holes showed a clear splitting, they showed no splitting in the glass sample, irrespective of the chosen polarization of the laser. In both samples the hole broadened in the applied field. The magnitude of the broadening was about the same in both cases. The following conclusions were drawn. The absence of a splitting in the glass signals an effective global inversion symmetry of the chromophore, despite its low symmetry group. The dipole moment changes are random. In the protein the inversion symmetry is broken through the spatial correlation of the protein building blocks, leading to a molecular frame-fixed dipole moment difference and, hence, to the observed splitting. Despite these symmetry-breaking properties, the local structural randomness is of the same magnitude in the glass and in the protein, as is obvious from the broadening. The distinct difference in the Stark pattern shows that the range of the relevant chromophore interactions is confined to typical dimensions of the protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2116-2120
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 14 Mar 1995


  • chromophore-protein interaction
  • order-disorder phenomena
  • spectral- structural correlations


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