Integrated efforts of the Gray and Goodin laboratories will focus on a series of designed sensitizer-linked substrates (SLS) to be used as probes of enzyme function, for the discovery of inhibitors, and as imaging agents for biomedically important metalloproteins. Two primary hypotheses drive these studies: 1) rational design of structural elements into a protein is feasible when coupled to a closed design-feedback cycle, and 2) questions about the function of important enzymes may be addressed using such models. The Gray laboratory has pioneered the use of SLS probes, allowing electron transfer (ET) to be directed into deeply buried protein active sites. Results in the Goodin laboratory have shown that proteins may be manipulated by iterative design to create binding sites for small molecules. In this proposal, a combined molecular design approach will be used in which both the protein and the SLS are designed to be self complementary. The proposed electron transfer pathway in cytochrome c peroxidase will be excised and replaced with redox active SLS probes to address questions about the chemical nature and context of specific ET pathways. SLS probes will be coupled to a protein-based model for the heme a3/CUB center of cytochrome c oxidase, providing new ways to test emerging ideas about how electron donors participate in O2 reduction. Novel SLS probes will be developed for identification of enzyme inhibitors and for imaging specific biological targets. One class will be designed to switch from a luminescent to a dark state upon binding to the protein target, and to recover luminescence upon displacement by a competitive inhibitor. The long-term goal is to develop isoform specific probes for screening inhibitors of important enzymes such as cytochrome P450 and nitric oxide synthase (NOS). A second class of probes will be designed to switch from a dark to a luminescent state upon binding to a target. These probes will be designed to detect NOS isoforms; their study will represent a critical first step toward our long-term goal of developing new tools for imaging and spatial localization of proteins in vivo. Overall, this proposal will contribute a completely novel approach to the design of structural elements into protein frameworks for the purpose of detecting, controlling and understanding the behavior of metalloproteins.
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