De Novo Design, Solution Characterization, and Crystallographic Structure of an Abiological Mn–Porphyrin-Binding Protein Capable of Stabilizing a Mn(V) Species
De novo protein design offers the opportunity to test our understanding of how metalloproteins perform difficult transformations. Attaining high-resolution structural information is critical to understanding how such designs function. There have been many successes in the design of porphyrin-binding proteins; however, crystallographic characterization has been elusive, limiting what can be learned from such studies as well as the extension to new functions. Moreover, formation of highly oxidizing high-valent intermediates poses design challenges that have not been previously implemented: (1) purposeful design of substrate/oxidant access to the binding site and (2) limiting deleterious oxidation of the protein scaffold. Here we report the first crystallographically characterized porphyrin-binding protein that was programmed to not only bind a synthetic Mn–porphyrin but also maintain binding site access to form high-valent oxidation states. We explicitly designed a binding site with accessibility to dioxygen units in the open coordination site of the Mn center. In solution, the protein is capable of accessing a high-valent Mn(V)–oxo species which can transfer an O atom to a thioether substrate. The crystallographic structure is within 0.6 Å of the design and indeed contained an aquo ligand with a second water molecule stabilized by hydrogen bonding to a Gln side chain in the active site, offering a structural explanation for the observed reactivity.