Previous studies [Chance, B., Fischetti, B., & Powers, L. (1983) Biochemistry 22, 3820-3829] of the local structure changes around the iron in carboxymyoglobin on photolysis at 4 K revealed that the iron-carbon distance increased ~0.05 - but was accompanied by a lengthening of the iron-pyrrole nitrogen bonds of the heme (~0.03 °) that was not as large as that found in the deoxy form. Further analysis of these data together with comparison to model compounds indicates that the Fe-C-0 bond angle in carboxymyoglobin is bent (127 - 4), having a structure identical, within the error, with the pocket porphyrin model compound FePocPiv(1-Melm)(CO) [Coliman, J. P., Brauman, J. I., Collins, T. J., Iverson, B. L., Lang, G., Pettman, R., Sessler, J. L., & Walters, M. A. (1983) J. Am. Chem Soc. 105, 3038-3052], On photolysis, this angle decreases by 5-10°. In addition, correlation is observed between the increase in the length of the Fe-C bond and the decrease of the Fe-C-0 angle. These results suggest that the rate-limiting step in recombination is the thermal motion of CO in the pocket to achieve an appropriate bonding angle with respect to the iron. These changes constitute the first molecular picture of the photolysis process, as well as the structure of the geminate state, and are important in clarifying nuclear tunneling parameters.
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