Electron migration between and within proteins is one of the most prevalent forms of biological energy conversion processes. Electron transfer reactions take place between active centers such as transition metal ions or organic cofactors over considerable distances at fast rates and with remarkable specificity. The electron transfer is attained through weak electronic interaction between the active sites, so that considerable research efforts are centered on resolving the factors that control the rates of long-distance electron transfer reactions in proteins. These factors include (in addition to the distance and nature of the microenvironment separating the reactants) thermodynamic driving force and the configurational changes required upon reaction. Several of these aspects are addressed in this review, which is based primarily on recent work performed by the authors on model systems of blue copper-containing proteins. These proteins serve almost exclusively in electron transfer reactions, and as it turns out, their metal coordination sites are endowed with properties uniquely optimized for their function.
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