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Lead: Its Effects on Environment and Health

Ed. by Sigel, Astrid / Sigel, Helmut / Sigel, Roland K.O.

With contrib. by Aoki, Katsuyuki / Aschner, Michael / Cullen, Jay T. / Farkas, Etelka / Filella, Montserrat / Hauser, Peter / Klotz, Katrin / Küpper, Hendrik / Maret, Wolfgang / Stewart, Theodora J. / Stillman, Martin J. / Pecoraro, Vincent L. / Pohl, Hana R. / Tylkowski, Bartosz

Series:Metal Ions in Life Sciences 17

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Publication Date:
April 2017
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10. Lead(II) Binding in Natural and Artificial Proteins

Cangelosi, Virginia / Ruckthong, Leela / Pecoraro, Vincent L.


This article describes recent attempts to understand the biological chemistry of lead using a synthetic biology approach. Lead binds to a variety of different biomolecules ranging from enzymes to regulatory and signaling proteins to bone matrix. We have focused on the interactions of this element in thiolate-rich sites that are found in metalloregulatory proteins such as Pbr, Znt, and CadC and in enzymes such as δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD). In these proteins, Pb(II) is often found as a homoleptic and hemidirectic Pb(II)(SR)3- complex. Using first principles of biophysics, we have developed relatively short peptides that can associate into three-stranded coiled coils (3SCCs), in which a cysteine group is incorporated into the hydrophobic core to generate a (cysteine)3 binding site. We describe how lead may be sequestered into these sites, the characteristic spectral features may be observed for such systems and we provide crystallographic insight on metal binding. The Pb(II)(SR)3- that is revealed within these α-helical assemblies forms a trigonal pyramidal structure (having an endo orientation) with distinct conformations than are also found in natural proteins (having an exo conformation). This structural insight, combined with 207Pb NMR spectroscopy, suggests that while Pb(II) prefers hemidirected Pb(II)(SR)3- scaffolds regardless of the protein fold, the way this is achieved within α-helical systems is different than in β-sheet or loop regions of proteins. These interactions between metal coordination preference and protein structural preference undoubtedly are exploited in natural systems to allow for protein conformation changes that define function. Thus, using a design approach that separates the numerous factors that lead to stable natural proteins allows us to extract fundamental concepts on how metals behave in biological systems.

Citation Information

Virginia Cangelosi, Leela Ruckthong, Vincent L. Pecoraro (2017). 10. Lead(II) Binding in Natural and Artificial Proteins. In Astrid Sigel, Helmut Sigel, Roland K.O. Sigel (Eds.), Lead – Its Effects on Environment and Health (pp. 271–318). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110434330-010

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110434330

Online ISBN: 9783110434330

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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