Send to

Choose Destination
Inorg Chem. 2011 Jun 20;50(12):5407-16. doi: 10.1021/ic200267x. Epub 2011 May 20.

Oxidation of zinc-thiolate complexes of biological interest by hydrogen peroxide: a theoretical study.

Author information

Centre de Recherche Universitaire de Djibouti (CRUD), University of Djibouti, Avenue Georges Clemenceau, Djibouti.


Zinc-thiolate complexes play a major structural and functional role in the living cell. Their stability is directly related to the thiolate reactivity toward reactive oxygen species naturally present in the cell. Oxidation of some zinc-thiolate complexes has a functional role, as is the case of zinc finger redox switches. Herein, we report a theoretical investigation on the oxidation of thiolate by hydrogen peroxide in zinc finger cores of CCCC, CCHC, and CCHH kinds containing either cysteine or histidine residues. In the case of the CCCC core, the calculated energy barrier for the oxidation to sulfenate of the complexed thiolate was found to be 16.0 kcal mol(-1), which is 2 kcal mol(-1) higher than that for the free thiolate. The energy barrier increases to 19.3 and 22.2 kcal mol(-1) for the monoprotonated and diprotonated CCCC cores, respectively. Substitution of cysteine by histidine also induces an increase in the magnitude of the reaction energy barrier: It becomes 20.0 and 20.9 kcal mol(-1) for the CCCH and CCHH cores, respectively. It is concluded that the energy barrier for the oxidation of zinc fingers is strictly dependent on the type of ligands coordinated to zinc and on the protonation state of the complex. These changes in the thiolate reactivity can be explained by the lowering of the nucleophilicity of complexed sulfur and by the internal reorganization of the complex (changes in the metal-ligand distances) upon oxidation. The next reaction steps subsequent to sulfenate formation are also considered. The oxidized thiolate (sulfenate) is predicted to dissociate very fast: For all complexes, the calculated dissociation energy barrier is lower than 3 kcal mol(-1). It is also shown that the dissociated sulfenic acid can interact with a free thiolate to form a sulfur-sulfur (SS) bridge in a reaction that is predicted to be quasi-diffusion limited. The interesting biological consequences of the modulation of thiolate reactivity by the chemical composition of the zinc finger cores are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center