Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Science, University Of Helsinki (2013)
  • Master of Science, University Of Helsinki (2014)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University Of Helsinki (2018)

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Absorption shifts of diastereotopically ligated chlorophyll dimers of photosystem I. Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP Suomivuori, C., Fliegl, H., Starikov, E. B., Balaban, T. S., Kaila, V. R., Sundholm, D. 2019


    The light-harvesting chlorophyll (Chl) molecules of photosynthetic systems form the basis for light-driven energy conversion. In biological environments, the Chl chromophores occur in two distinct diastereotopic configurations, where the alpha and beta configurations have a magnesium-ligating histidine residue and a 17-propionic acid moiety on the opposite side or on the same side of the Chl ring, respectively. Although beta-ligated Chl dimers occupy conserved positions around the reaction center of photosystem I (PSI), the functional relevance of the alpha/beta configuration of the ligation is poorly understood. We employ here correlated ab initio calculations using the algebraic-diagrammatic construction through second order (ADC(2)) and the approximate second-order coupled cluster (CC2) methods in combination with the reduced virtual space (RVS) approach in studies of the intrinsic excited-state properties of alpha-ligated and beta-ligated Chl dimers of PSI. Our ab initio calculations suggest that the absorption of the alpha-ligated reaction-center Chl dimer of PSI is redshifted by 0.13-0.14 eV in comparison to the beta-ligated dimers due to combined excitonic coupling and strain effects. We also show that time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) calculations using range-separated density functionals underestimate the absorption shift between the alpha- and beta-ligated dimers. Our findings may provide a molecular starting point for understanding the energy flow in natural photosynthetic systems, as well as a blueprint for developing new molecules that convert sunlight into other forms of energy.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c9cp00616h

    View details for PubMedID 30874282

  • Energetics and dynamics of a light-driven sodium-pumping rhodopsin PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Suomivuori, C., Gamiz-Hernandez, A. P., Sundholm, D., Kaila, V. I. 2017; 114 (27): 7043–48


    The conversion of light energy into ion gradients across biological membranes is one of the most fundamental reactions in primary biological energy transduction. Recently, the structure of the first light-activated Na+ pump, Krokinobacter eikastus rhodopsin 2 (KR2), was resolved at atomic resolution [Kato HE, et al. (2015) Nature 521:48-53]. To elucidate its molecular mechanism for Na+ pumping, we perform here extensive classical and quantum molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of transient photocycle states. Our simulations show how the dynamics of key residues regulate water and ion access between the bulk and the buried light-triggered retinal site. We identify putative Na+ binding sites and show how protonation and conformational changes gate the ion through these sites toward the extracellular side. We further show by correlated ab initio quantum chemical calculations that the obtained putative photocycle intermediates are in close agreement with experimental transient optical spectroscopic data. The combined results of the ion translocation and gating mechanisms in KR2 may provide a basis for the rational design of novel light-driven ion pumps with optogenetic applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1703625114

    View details for Web of Science ID 000404576100060

    View details for PubMedID 28611220

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5502629

  • Tuning the Protein-Induced Absorption Shifts of Retinal in Engineered Rhodopsin Mimics CHEMISTRY-A EUROPEAN JOURNAL Suomivuori, C., Lang, L., Sundholm, D., Gamiz-Hernandez, A. P., Kaila, V. I. 2016; 22 (24): 8254–61


    Rational design of light-capturing properties requires understanding the molecular and electronic structure of chromophores in their native chemical or biological environment. We employ here large-scale quantum chemical calculations to study the light-capturing properties of retinal in recently designed human cellular retinol binding protein II (hCRBPII) variants (Wang et al. Science, 2012, 338, 1340-1343). Our calculations show that these proteins absorb across a large part of the visible spectrum by combined polarization and electrostatic effects. These effects stabilize the ground or excited state energy levels of the retinal by perturbing the Schiff-base or β-ionone moieties of the chromophore, which in turn modulates the amount of charge transfer within the molecule. Based on the predicted tuning principles, we design putative in silico mutations that further shift the absorption properties of retinal in hCRBPII towards the ultraviolet and infrared regions of the spectrum.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/chem.201505126

    View details for Web of Science ID 000380269400029

    View details for PubMedID 27120137

  • Exploring the Light-Capturing Properties of Photosynthetic Chlorophyll Clusters Using Large-Scale Correlated Calculations JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL THEORY AND COMPUTATION Suomivuori, C., Winter, N. C., Haettig, C., Sundholm, D., Kaila, V. I. 2016; 12 (6): 2644–51


    Chlorophylls are light-capturing units found in photosynthetic proteins. We study here the ground and excited state properties of monomeric, dimeric, and tetrameric models of the special chlorophyll/bacteriochlorophyll (Chl/BChl) pigment (P) centers P700 and P680/P870 of type I and type II photosystems, respectively. In the excited state calculations, we study the performance of the algebraic diagrammatic construction through second-order (ADC(2)) method in combination with the reduced virtual space (RVS) approach and the recently developed Laplace-transformed scaled-opposite-spin (LT-SOS) algorithm, which allows us, for the first time, to address multimeric effects at correlated ab initio levels using large basis sets. At the LT-SOS-RVS-ADC(2)/def2-TZVP level, we obtain vertical excitation energies (VEEs) of 2.00-2.07 and 1.52-1.62 eV for the P680/P700 and the P870 pigment models, respectively, which agree well with the experimental absorption maxima of 1.82, 1.77, and 1.43 eV for P680, P700, and P870, respectively. In the P680/P870 models, we find that the photoexcitation leads to a π → π* transition in which the exciton is delocalized between the adjacent Chl/BChl molecules of the central pair, whereas the exciton is localized to a single chlorophyll molecule in the P700 model. Consistent with experiments, the calculated excitonic splittings between the central pairs of P680, P700, and P870 models are 80, 200, and 400 cm(-1), respectively. The calculations show that the electron affinity of the radical cation of the P680 model is 0.4 V larger than for the P870 model and 0.2 V larger than for P700. The chromophore stacking interaction is found to strongly influence the electron localization properties of the light-absorbing pigments, which may help to elucidate mechanistic details of the charge separation process in type I and type II photosystems.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jctc.6b00237

    View details for Web of Science ID 000378016000013

    View details for PubMedID 27153186

  • Coupled-Cluster Studies of Extensive Green Fluorescent Protein Models Using the Reduced Virtual Space Approach JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B Send, R., Suomivuori, C., Kaila, V. I., Sundholm, D. 2015; 119 (7): 2933–45


    Accurate predictions of photoexcitation properties are a major challenge for modern methods of theoretical chemistry. We show here how approximate coupled-cluster singles and doubles (CC2) calculations in combination with the reduced virtual space (RVS) approach can be employed in studies of excited states of large biomolecular systems. The RVS-CC2 approach is used for accurately predicting optical properties of the p-hydroxybenzylidene-dihydroimidazolinone (p-HBDI) chromophore embedded in green fluorescent protein (GFP) models using quantum mechanical calculations in combination with large basis sets. We study the lowest excited states for the isolated and protein-embedded chromophore in two different protonation states, and show how omitting high-lying virtual orbitals in the RVS calculation of excitation energies renders large-scale CC2 studies computationally feasible. We also discuss how the error introduced by the RVS approach can be systematically estimated and controlled. The obtained CC2 excitation energies of 3.13-3.27 and 2.69-2.77 eV for the two protonation states of different protein models are in excellent agreement with the maxima of the experimental absorption spectra of 3.12-3.14 and 2.61-2.64 eV, respectively. Thus, the calculated energy splitting between the excited states of the two protonation states is 0.44-0.52 eV, which agrees very well with the experimental value of 0.48-0.51 eV. The calculations at the RVS-CC2 level on the protein models show the importance of using large QM regions in studies of biochromophores embedded in proteins.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jp5120898

    View details for Web of Science ID 000349942300017

    View details for PubMedID 25613980

  • The role of solvent exclusion in the interaction between D124 and the metal site in SOD1: implications for ALS JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL INORGANIC CHEMISTRY Mera-Adasme, R., Suomivuori, C., Fierro, A., Pesonen, J., Sundholm, D. 2013; 18 (8): 931–38


    Structural changes in the metal site of the copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) are involved in the various mechanisms proposed for the pathogenesis of the SOD1-linked familial form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Elucidating how the metal site of SOD1 can be disrupted by ALS-linked mutations is important for a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease and for developing more efficient treatments. Residue D124, a second-sphere ligand of the copper and zinc ions, is known from experimental studies to be essential for the integrity of the metal-site structure. In this work, we used density functional theory calculations and molecular dynamics simulations to elucidate which factors keep D124 attached to the metal site and how structural changes may disrupt the binding between D124 and the metal first-sphere ligands. The calculations show that D124 is kept attached to the metal site in a kinetic trap. The exclusion of solvent molecules by the electrostatic loop of the protein is found to create the binding of D124 to the metal site. The calculations also indicate that changes in the structure of the electrostatic loop of the protein can weaken the D124-metal site interaction, lowering the affinity of the zinc site for the metal. Destabilization of the electrostatic loop of SOD1 has been previously shown to be a common property of ALS-linked variants of the protein, but its role in the pathogenesis of SOD1-linked ALS has not been elucidated.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00775-013-1039-8

    View details for Web of Science ID 000327406000006

    View details for PubMedID 24026444