Rational Design of a Structural and Functional Nitric Oxide Reductase
Protein design provides a rigorous test of our knowledge about proteins and allows the creation of novel enzymes for biotechnological applications. Whereas progress has been made in designing proteins that mimic native proteins structurally1,2,3, it is more difficult to design functional proteins4,5,6,7,8. In comparison to recent successes in designing non-metalloproteins4,6,7,9,10, it is even more challenging to rationally design metalloproteins that reproduce both the structure and function of native metalloenzymes5,8,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20. This is because protein metal-binding sites are much more varied than non-metal-containing sites, in terms of different metal ion oxidation states, preferred geometry and metal ion ligand donor sets. Because of their variability, it has been difficult to predict metal-binding site properties in silico, as many of the parameters, such as force fields, are ill-defined. Therefore, the successful design of a structural and functional metalloprotein would greatly advance the field of protein design and our understanding of enzymes. Here we report a successful, rational design of a structural and functional model of a metalloprotein, nitric oxide reductase (NOR), by introducing three histidines and one glutamate, predicted as ligands in the active site of NOR, into the distal pocket of myoglobin. A crystal structure of the designed protein confirms that the minimized computer model contains a haem/non-haem FeB centre that is remarkably similar to that in the crystal structure. This designed protein also exhibits NO reduction activity, and so models both the structure and function of NOR, offering insight that the active site glutamate is required for both iron binding and activity. These results show that structural and functional metalloproteins can be rationally designed in silico.
Roles of Glutamates and Metal Ions in a Rationally Designed Nitric Oxide Reductase Based on Myoglobin
A structural and functional model of bacterial nitric oxide reductase (NOR) has been designed by introducing two glutamates (Glu) and three histidines (His) in sperm whale myoglobin. X-ray structural data indicate that the three His and one Glu (V68E) residues bind iron, mimicking the putative FeB site in NOR, while the second Glu (I107E) interacts with a water molecule and forms a hydrogen bonding network in the designed protein. Unlike the first Glu (V68E), which lowered the heme reduction potential by ∼110 mV, the second Glu has little effect on the heme potential, suggesting that the negatively charged Glu has a different role in redox tuning. More importantly, introducing the second Glu resulted in a ∼100% increase in NOR activity, suggesting the importance of a hydrogen bonding network in facilitating proton delivery during NOR reactivity. In addition, EPR and X-ray structural studies indicate that the designed protein binds iron, copper, or zinc in the FeB site, each with different effects on the structures and NOR activities, suggesting that both redox activity and an intermediate five-coordinate heme-NO species are important for high NOR activity. The designed protein offers an excellent model for NOR and demonstrates the power of using designed proteins as a simpler and more well-defined system to address important chemical and biological issues.
Metal: FeNotes: X-ray structure of mutant I107E.