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J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Apr 9;136(14):5400-6. doi: 10.1021/ja500616m. Epub 2014 Mar 27.

'Unconventional' coordination chemistry by metal chelating fragments in a metalloprotein active site.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, §Pharmacology, and ∥Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Diego , La Jolla, California 92093, United States.


The binding of three closely related chelators: 5-hydroxy-2-methyl-4H-pyran-4-thione (allothiomaltol, ATM), 3-hydroxy-2-methyl-4H-pyran-4-thione (thiomaltol, TM), and 3-hydroxy-4H-pyran-4-thione (thiopyromeconic acid, TPMA) to the active site of human carbonic anhydrase II (hCAII) has been investigated. Two of these ligands display a monodentate mode of coordination to the active site Zn(2+) ion in hCAII that is not recapitulated in model complexes of the enzyme active site. This unprecedented binding mode in the hCAII-thiomaltol complex has been characterized by both X-ray crystallography and X-ray spectroscopy. In addition, the steric restrictions of the active site force the ligands into a 'flattened' mode of coordination compared with inorganic model complexes. This change in geometry has been shown by density functional computations to significantly decrease the strength of the metal-ligand binding. Collectively, these data demonstrate that the mode of binding by small metal-binding groups can be significantly influenced by the protein active site. Diminishing the strength of the metal-ligand bond results in unconventional modes of metal coordination not found in typical coordination compounds or even carefully engineered active site models, and understanding these effects is critical to the rational design of inhibitors that target clinically relevant metalloproteins.

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