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Femtomolar Zn(II) Affinity in a Peptide-Based Ligand Designed To Model Thiolate-Rich Metalloprotein Active Sites

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journal contribution
posted on 11.12.2006, 00:00 by Amy K. Petros, Amit R. Reddi, Michelle L. Kennedy, Alison G. Hyslop, Brian R. Gibney
Metal−ligand interactions are critical components of metalloprotein assembly, folding, stability, electrochemistry, and catalytic function. Research over the past 3 decades on the interaction of metals with peptide and protein ligands has progressed from the characterization of amino acid−metal and polypeptide−metal complexes to the design of folded protein scaffolds containing multiple metal cofactors. De novo metalloprotein design has emerged as a valuable tool both for the modular synthesis of these complex metalloproteins and for revealing the fundamental tenets of metalloprotein structure−function relationships. Our research has focused on using the coordination chemistry of de novo designed metalloproteins to probe the interactions of metal cofactors with protein ligands relevant to biological phenomena. Herein, we present a detailed thermodynamic analysis of Fe(II), Co(II), Zn(II), and [4Fe-4S]2+ binding to IGA, a 16 amino acid peptide ligand containing four cysteine residues, H2N−KLCEGG−CIGCGAC−GGW−CONH2. These studies were conducted to delineate the inherent metal-ion preferences of this unfolded tetrathiolate peptide ligand as well as to evaluate the role of the solution pH on metal−peptide complex speciation. The [4Fe−4S]2+/+-IGA complex is both an excellent peptide-based synthetic analogue for natural ferredoxins and is flexible enough to accommodate mononuclear metal-ion binding. Incorporation of a single ferrous ion provides the FeII-IGA complex, a spectroscopic model of a reduced rubredoxin active site that possesses limited stability in aqueous buffers. As expected based on the Irving−Williams series and hard−soft acid−base theory, the Co(II) and Zn(II) complexes of IGA are significantly more stable than the Fe(II) complex. Direct proton competition experiments, coupled with determinations of the conditional dissociation constants over a range of pH values, fully define the thermodynamic stabilities and speciation of each MII-IGA complex. The data demonstrate that FeII-IGA and CoII-IGA have formation constant values of 5.0 × 108 and 4.2 × 1011 M-1, which are highly attenuated at physiological pH values. The data also evince that the formation constant for ZnII-IGA is 8.0 × 1015 M-1, a value that exceeds the tightest natural protein Zn(II)-binding affinities. The formation constant demonstrates that the metal−ligand binding energy of a ZnII(S−Cys)4 site can stabilize a metalloprotein by −21.6 kcal/mol. Rigorous thermodynamic analyses such as those demonstrated here are critical to current research efforts in metalloprotein design, metal-induced protein folding, and metal-ion trafficking.