Cryogenic samples of MbCO at pH3 are studied using nanosecond and picosecond time-resolved resonance Raman spectroscopy. It is observed that under excitation conditions sufficient to completely photodissociate MbCO at pH7, the pH3 sample at 10 ns remains substantially unphotolyzed even at 15 K. The similarity in the optical and resonance Raman spectra of MbCO at pH3 with that of pH7 indicates that at pH3 the iron remains six-coordinate and low-spin. The Fe-CO stretch frequency is consistent with a more upright CO orientation. The absence of the v(Fe-His) band in the 30 ps photoproduct Raman spectrum suggests that the Fe-His(F8) bond is broken within 30 ps of photodissociation. Other Raman bands, though, are not consistent with a normal four-coordinate heme for the photoproduct, Mb*. Suggested possible interpretations include a four-coordinate heme highly perturbed by the close lying protonated proximal histidine or a five-coordinate heme with the Fe-His bond significantly weakened. The partial photolysis monitored at 30 ps and 100 K indicates either a significant amount of geminate recombination within 30 ps or low quantum yield or photolysis. The time course for CO recombination is monitored via the Raman spectra from 30 ps to 3 ns at 100 K and 160 K. Of the fraction of protein-ligand pairs that remain photodissociated at 30 ps, 50% recombine by approximately 250 ps at 100 K and 160 K, supporting the flash photolysis rebinding data of Cowen et al. (Cowen, B. R. 1990. Ph. D. thesis. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Cowen, B. R., D. Braunstein, H. Frauenfelder, P. J. Steinbach, and R. D. Young. 1989. Biophys. J. 55:55a. [Abstr.].) The conclusions from these resonance Raman studies are extended to solution phase studies at ambient temperatures.
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