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Computational Design and Elaboration of a de Novo Heterotetrameric α-Helical Protein That Selectively Binds an Emissive Abiological (Porphinato)zinc Chromophore

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journal contribution
posted on 24.03.2010, 00:00 by H. Christopher Fry, Andreas Lehmann, Jeffery G. Saven, William F. DeGrado, Michael J. Therien
The first example of a computationally de novo designed protein that binds an emissive abiological chromohore is presented, in which a sophisticated level of cofactor discrimination is pre-engineered. This heterotetrameric, C2-symmetric bundle, AHis:BThr, uniquely binds (5,15-di[(4-carboxymethyleneoxy)phenyl]porphinato)zinc [(DPP)Zn] via histidine coordination and complementary noncovalent interactions. The A2B2 heterotetrameric protein reflects ligand-directed elements of both positive and negative design, including hydrogen bonds to second-shell ligands. Experimental support for the appropriate formulation of [(DPP)Zn:AHis:BThr]2 is provided by UV/visible and circular dichroism spectroscopies, size exclusion chromatography, and analytical ultracentrifugation. Time-resolved transient absorption and fluorescence spectroscopic data reveal classic excited-state singlet and triplet PZn photophysics for the AHis:BThr:(DPP)Zn protein (kfluorescence = 4 × 108 s−1; τtriplet = 5 ms). The A2B2 apoprotein has immeasurably low binding affinities for related [porphinato]metal chromophores that include a (DPP)Fe(III) cofactor and the zinc metal ion hemin derivative [(PPIX)Zn], underscoring the exquisite active-site binding discrimination realized in this computationally designed protein. Importantly, elements of design in the AHis:BThr protein ensure that interactions within the tetra-α-helical bundle are such that only the heterotetramer is stable in solution; corresponding homomeric bundles present unfavorable ligand-binding environments and thus preclude protein structural rearrangements that could lead to binding of (porphinato)iron cofactors.