The broad purpose of the research in this proposal is to determine the fundamental relationships between the structures of active sites in metalloproteins and function. A bio-inspired synthetic approach is utilized that incorporates structural components found in active sites, specifically those that control the microenvironment (secondary coordination sphere) surrounding metal ion(s). Organic compounds are being developed which create rigid structures around a bound metal ion, forming specific microenvironments that emulate motifs found within protein active sites. Regulation is achieved via non- covalent interactions (e.g., hydrogen bonds) that are strategically placed proximal to the metal ions to affect function;in particular the binding and activation of dioxygen, which are processes directly linked to the maintenance of human health and aging. These synthetic systems allow for the stabilization of high-energy transients that are often proposed, but rarely observed, in non-heme metalloenzymes: their detection provides new avenues to explore mechanistic aspects of these biological essential reactions. Long-term goals include developing structure function relationships in metal-assisted oxidative catalysis. Metalloproteins perform functions not yet achieved in synthetic systems. Our hypothesis is that the lack of control of the secondary coordination sphere in synthetic compounds is a major obstacle to desired functions. Results from structural biology show that non-covalent interactions within the secondary coordination spheres of metalloproteins are instrumental in regulating function. Therefore the function and dysfunction of health-related metalloproteins can be understood in the context of changes in their microenvironments. It is still unclear, even in biomolecules, how non-covalent interactions are able to influence metal-mediated processes. Investigations into these effects require basic reactivity and mechanistic studies in which the effects of single components can be analyzed individually. We have developed synthetic systems whereby site-specific modulations in structure can be readily accomplished, in order to establish correlations with function, these types of studies will lead to fundamental mechanistic insights into biochemical processes. Ultimately, this research will provide insights into the properties of biological catalysts and lead to new classes of synthetic catalysts that incorporate the exquisite control of reactivity characteristic of metalloenzymes.

Public Health Relevance

Dioxygen binding and activation by metalloproteins are processes linked directly to the maintenance of human health and aging. The protein-induced microenvironments surrounding the active metal center(s) are instrumental in regulating these functions;therefore the function and dysfunction of health-related metalloproteins can be understood in the context of changes in their microenvironments. Non-covalent interactions, including hydrogen bonds, are acknowledged as the major forces that control microenvironmental effects, but it is still unclear how they are able to influence metal-mediated processes;thus these effects require basic reactivity and mechanistic studies in which the effects of single components can be analyzed individually as described in this research.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Macromolecular Structure and Function E Study Section (MSFE)
Program Officer
Anderson, Vernon
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Irvine
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Hill, Ethan A; Weitz, Andrew C; Onderko, Elizabeth et al. (2016) Reactivity of an Fe(IV)-Oxo Complex with Protons and Oxidants. J Am Chem Soc 138:13143-13146
Mann, Samuel I; Heinisch, Tillmann; Weitz, Andrew C et al. (2016) Modular Artificial Cupredoxins. J Am Chem Soc 138:9073-6
Mallin, Hendrik; Hestericová, Martina; Reuter, Raphael et al. (2016) Library design and screening protocol for artificial metalloenzymes based on the biotin-streptavidin technology. Nat Protoc 11:835-52
Lau, Nathanael; Ziller, Joseph W; Borovik, A S (2015) Sulfonamido tripods: tuning redox potentials via ligand modifications. Polyhedron 85:777-782
Cook, Sarah A; Borovik, A S (2015) Molecular designs for controlling the local environments around metal ions. Acc Chem Res 48:2407-14
Gupta, Rupal; Taguchi, Taketo; Lassalle-Kaiser, Benedikt et al. (2015) High-spin Mn-oxo complexes and their relevance to the oxygen-evolving complex within photosystem II. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:5319-24
Cook, Sarah A; Hill, Ethan A; Borovik, A S (2015) Lessons from Nature: A Bio-Inspired Approach to Molecular Design. Biochemistry 54:4167-80
Taguchi, Taketo; Stone, Kari L; Gupta, Rupal et al. (2014) Preparation and Properties of an Mn(IV-)Hydroxide Complex: Proton and Electron Transfer at a Mononuclear Manganese Site and its Relationship to the Oxygen Evolving Complex within Photosystem II. Chem Sci 5:3064-3071
Cook, Sarah A; Ziller, Joseph W; Borovik, A S (2014) Iron(II) complexes supported by sulfonamido tripodal ligands: endogenous versus exogenous substrate oxidation. Inorg Chem 53:11029-35
Sickerman, Nathaniel S; Peterson, Sonja M; Ziller, Joseph W et al. (2014) Synthesis, structure and reactivity of Fe(II/III)-NH3 complexes bearing a tripodal sulfonamido ligand. Chem Commun (Camb) 50:2515-7

Showing the most recent 10 out of 36 publications