X-ray absorption spectroscopy at the L-edge of 3d transition metals provides unique information on the local metal charge and spin states by directly probing 3d-derived molecular orbitals through 2p-3d transitions. However, this soft x-ray technique has been rarely used at synchrotron facilities for mechanistic studies of metalloenzymes due to the difficulties of x-ray-induced sample damage and strong background signals from light elements that can dominate the low metal signal. Here, we combine femtosecond soft x-ray pulses from a free-electron laser with a novel x-ray fluorescence-yield spectrometer to overcome these difficulties. We present L-edge absorption spectra of inorganic high-valent Mn complexes (Mn ~ 6-15 mmol/l) with no visible effects of radiation damage. We also present the first L-edge absorption spectra of the oxygen evolving complex (Mn4CaO5) in Photosystem II (Mn < 1 mmol/l) at room temperature, measured under similar conditions. Our approach opens new ways to study metalloenzymes under functional conditions.
Kubin, M., Kern, J., Gul, S., Kroll, T., Chatterjee, R., Löchel, H., … Wernet, P. (2017). Soft x-ray absorption spectroscopy of metalloproteins and high-valent metal-complexes at room temperature using free-electron lasers. Structural Dynamics, 4(5). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4986627