American Chemical Society
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De Novo-Designed Metallopeptides with Type 2 Copper Centers: Modulation of Reduction Potentials and Nitrite Reductase Activities

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-12-04, 00:00 authored by Fangting Yu, James E. Penner-Hahn, Vincent L. Pecoraro
Enzymatic reactions involving redox processes are highly sensitive to the local electrostatic environment. Despite considerable effort, the complex interactions among different influential factors in native proteins impede progress toward complete understanding of the structure–function relationship. Of particular interest is the type 2 copper center Cu­(His)3, which may act as an electron transfer center in peptidylglycine α-hydroxylating monooxygenase (PHM) or a catalytic center in copper nitrite reductase (CuNiR). A de novo design strategy is used to probe the effect of modifying charged amino acid residues around, but not directly bound to, a Cu­(His)3 center embedded in three-stranded coiled coils (TRI-H)3 [TRI-H = Ac-G WKALEEK LKALEEK LKALEEK HKALEEK G-NH2]. Specifically, the peptide TRI-EH (=TRI-HK22E) alters an important lysine to glutamate just above the copper binding center. With a series of TRI-EH peptides mutated below the metal center, we use a variety of spectroscopies (EPR, UV–vis, XAS) to show a direct impact on the protonation equilibria, copper binding affinities, reduction potentials, and nitrite reductase activities of these copper–peptide complexes. The potentials at a specific pH vary by 100 mV, and the nitrite reductase activities range over a factor of 4 in rates. We also observe that the affinities, potentials, and catalytic activities are strongly influenced by the pH conditions (pH 5.8–7.4). In general, Cu­(II) affinities for the peptides are diminished at low pH values. The interplay among these factors can lead to a 200 mV shift in reduction potential across these peptides, which is determined by the pH-dependent affinities of copper in both oxidation states. This study illustrates the strength of de novo protein design in elucidating the influence of ionizable residues on a particular redox system, an important step toward understanding the factors that govern the properties of this metalloenzyme with a goal of eventually improving the catalytic activity.