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Inorg Chem. 2004 Mar 8;43(5):1708-13.

Hydrolytic reaction by zinc finger mutant peptides: successful redesign of structural zinc sites into catalytic zinc sites.

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  • 1Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, Uji, Kyoto 611-0011, Japan.


To redesign a metal site originally required for the stabilization of a folded protein structure into a functional metal site, we constructed a series of zinc finger mutant peptides such as zf(CCHG) and zf(GCHH), in which one zinc-coordinating residue is substituted into a noncoordinating one. The mutant peptides having water bound to the zinc ion catalyzed the hydrolysis of 4-nitrophenyl acetate as well as the enantioselective hydrolysis of amino acid esters. All the zinc complexes of the mutant peptides showed hydrolytic activity, depending on their peptide sequences. In contrast, the zinc complex of the wild-type, zf(CCHH), and zinc ion alone exhibited no hydrolytic ability. These results clearly indicate that the catalytic abilities are predominantly attributed to the zinc center in the zinc complexes of the mutant peptides. Kinetic studies of the mutant peptides demonstrated that the catalytic hydrolysis is affected by the electron-donating ability of the protein ligands and the coordination environment. In addition, the pH dependence of the hydrolysis strongly suggests that the zinc-coordinated hydroxide ion participates the catalytic reaction. This report is the first successful study of catalytically active zinc finger peptides.

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