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Inorg Chem. 2003 Dec 1;42(24):8098-104.

Europium luminescence of EF-hand helix-turn-helix chimeras: impact of pH and DNA-binding on europium coordination.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


A series of Eu(III) metallopeptides, designed on the basis of the structural similarity of the helix-turn-helix and EF-hand motifs, have been studied by Eu(III) (7)F(0) --> (5)D(0) excitation spectroscopy. The impact of EF-hand ligand set differences on the hydration number and Eu(III) coordination environment are compared among the peptides. The conditional binding affinities were determined by Eu titration (P3, log K(a) = 6.0 +/- 0.4; P3W, log K(a) = 5.9 +/- 0.2; P5b, log K(a) = 5.3 +/- 0.1). Two similar coordination environments occur in each case, consistent with structural flexibility about the metal site. The coordination environments are consistent with 8- or 9-coordinate Eu(III), including six peptide-based ligands and two to three water molecules (P3, q = 1.9 +/- 0.2; P3W, q = 2.3 +/- 0.2; P4a, q = 1.9 +/- 0.3; P5b, q = 2.6 +/- 0.2). The Eu(III) (7)F(0) --> (5)D(0) excitation spectra are pH-dependent, as reported for several EF-hand proteins (oncomodulin, parvalbumin). A higher energy transition occurs at pH > 6, and has been assigned to deprotonation of coordinated water. The pK(a) leading to this new transition is dependent on Eu(III) Lewis acidity, which varies with the inner and outer sphere ligand set. The noncoordinating ninth position of the Eu-binding loop, which is poised to make second-sphere contacts to the coordinated water, stabilizes the deprotonated form of the coordinated solvent more effectively when it is Thr (P5b) than Asp (P3W). Upon DNA-binding by the metallopeptides, the pK(a) of the pH-dependent peak increases, but no new DNA-dependent transitions are observed. This indicates no DNA-based Eu(III) ligands are introduced, such as phosphate oxygen atoms of the DNA backbone. The hydration number decreases in the presence of DNA (P3W + DNA, q = 1.9 +/- 0.2; P5b + DNA, q = 1.7 +/- 0.2), indicating that DNA-binding by the metallopeptides organizes rather than compromises the Eu-binding site within the peptide.

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