αRep refers to a new family of artificial proteins based on a thermostable α-helical repeated motif. One of its members, αRep A3, forms a stable homo-dimer with a wide cleft that is able to accommodate metal complexes and thus appears to be suitable for generating new artificial biocatalysts. Based on the crystal structure of αRep A3, two positions (F119 and Y26) were chosen, and independently changed into cysteine residues. A phenanthroline ligand was covalently attached to the unique cysteine residue of each protein variant, and the corresponding biohybrids were purified and characterized. Once mutated and coupled to phenanthroline, the protein remained folded and dimeric. Copper(II) was specifically bound by the two biohybrids with two different binding modes. Furthermore, the holo-biohybrid A3F119NPH was found to be capable of enantioselectively catalyzing Diels-Alder (D-A) cycloadditions with up to 62 % ee. This study validates the choice of the αRep A3 dimer as a protein scaffold and provides a promising new route for the design and production of new enantioselective biohybrids based on entirely artificial proteins obtained from a highly diverse library.
Keywords: Diels-Alder reaction; artificial enzymes; enantioselective catalysis; green chemistry; protein engineering.
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