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Dalton Trans. 2006 Jul 21;(27):3326-37. Epub 2006 Apr 20.

Model studies of the Cu(B) site of cytochrome c oxidase utilizing a Zn(II) complex containing an imidazole-phenol cross-linked ligand.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


Cytochrome c oxidase, the enzyme complex responsible for the four-electron reduction of O2 to H2O, contains an unusual histidine-tyrosine cross-link in its bimetallic heme a3-CuB active site. We have synthesised an unhindered, tripodal chelating ligand, BPAIP, containing the unusual ortho-imidazole-phenol linkage, which mimics the coordination environment of the CuB center. The ligand was used to investigate the physicochemical (pKa, oxidation potential) and coordination properties of the imidazole-phenol linkage when bound to a dication. Zn(II) coordination lowers the pKa of the phenol by 0.6 log units, and increases the potential of the phenolate/phenoxyl radical couple by approximately 50 mV. These results are consistent with inductive withdrawal of electron density from the phenolic ring. Spectroscopic data and theoretical calculations (DFT) were used to establish that the cationic complex [Zn(BPAIP)Br]+ has an axially distorted trigonal bipyramidal structure, with three coordinating nitrogen ligands (two pyridine and one imidazole) occupying the equatorial plane and the bromide and the tertiary amine nitrogen of the tripod in the axial positions. Interestingly, the Zn-Namine bonding interaction is weak or absent in [Zn(BPAIP)Br]+ and the complex gains stability in basic solutions, as indicated by 1H NMR spectroscopy. These observations are supported by theoretical calculations (DFT), which suggest that the electron-donating capacity of the equatorial imidazole ligand can be varied by modulation of the protonation and/or redox state of the cross-linked phenol. Deprotonation of the phenol makes the equatorial imidazole a stronger sigma-donor, resulting in an increased Zn-Nimd interaction and thereby leading to distortion of the axial ligand axis toward a more tetrahedral geometry.

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