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The alpha-helical coiled-coil motif serves as a robust scaffold for incorporating electron-transfer (ET) functionality into synthetic metalloproteins. These structures consist of a supercoiling of two or more R helices that are formed by the self-assembly of individual polypeptide chains whose sequences contain a repeating pattern of hydrophobic and hydrophilic residues. Early work from our group attached abiotic Ru-based redox sites to the most surface-exposed positions of two stranded coiled-coils and used electron-pulse radiolysis to study both intra- and intermolecular ET reactions in these systems. Later work used smaller metallopeptides to investigate the effects of conformational gating within electrostatic peptide-protein complexes. We have recently designed the C16C19-GGY peptide, which contains Cys residues located at both the "a" and "d" positions of its third heptad repeat in order to construct a nativelike metal-binding domain within its hydrophobic core. It was shown that the binding of both Cd(II) and Cu( I) ions induces the peptide to undergo a conformational change from a disordered random coil to a metal-bridged coiled-coil. However, whereas the Cd(II)-protein exists as a two-stranded coiled-coil, the Cu(I) derivative exists as a four-stranded coiled-coil. Upon the incorporation of other metal ions, metal-bridged peptide dimers, tetramers, and hexamers are formed. The Cu(I)-protein is of particular interest because it exhibits a long-lived (microsecond) room-temperature luminescence at 600 nm. The luminophore in this protein is thought to be a multinuclear Cu-4(I)-Cys(4)(N/O)(4) cage complex, which can be quenched by exogenous electron acceptors in solution, as shown by emission-lifetime and transient-absorption experiments. It is anticipated that further investigation into these systems will contribute to the expanding effort of bioinorganic chemists to prepare new kinds of functionally active synthetic metalloproteins.

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Inorganic Chemistry


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