Artificial Iron Proteins: Modeling the Active Sites in Non-Heme Dioxygenases

Inorg Chem. 2020 May 4;59(9):6000-6009. doi: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.9b03791. Epub 2020 Apr 20.


An important class of non-heme dioxygenases contains a conserved Fe binding site that consists of a 2-His-1-carboxylate facial triad. Results from structural biology show that, in the resting state, these proteins are six-coordinate with aqua ligands occupying the remaining three coordination sites. We have utilized biotin-streptavidin (Sav) technology to design new artificial Fe proteins (ArMs) that have many of the same structural features found within active sites of these non-heme dioxygenases. An Sav variant was isolated that contains the S112E mutation, which installed a carboxylate side chain in the appropriate position to bind to a synthetic FeII complex confined within Sav. Structural studies using X-ray diffraction (XRD) methods revealed a facial triad binding site that is composed of two N donors from the biotinylated ligand and the monodentate coordination of the carboxylate from S112E. Two aqua ligands complete the primary coordination sphere of the FeII center with both involved in hydrogen bond networks within Sav. The corresponding FeIII protein was also prepared and structurally characterized to show a six-coordinate complex with two exogenous acetato ligands. The FeIII protein was further shown to bind an exogenous azido ligand through replacement of one acetato ligand. Spectroscopic studies of the ArMs in solution support the results found by XRD.

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Dioxygenases / chemistry*
  • Dioxygenases / metabolism
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry
  • Ferric Compounds / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Nonheme Iron Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nonheme Iron Proteins / metabolism


  • Ferric Compounds
  • Ligands
  • Nonheme Iron Proteins
  • Dioxygenases