Chemistry Faculty Research


Mercury Metallation of the Copper Protein Azurin and Structural Insight into Possible Heavy Metal Reactivity.

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Publication Date

Fall 12-2014


Mercury(II) metallation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa azurin has been characterized structurally and biochemically. The X-ray crystal structure at 1.5 Å of mercury(II) metallated azurin confirms the coordination of mercury at the copper binding active site and a second surface site. These findings are further validated by NMR, Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization spectrometry (MALDI), and UV–visible spectroscopic methods indicating copper displacement from the wild-type protein. Bioinformatic analysis has identified homologous human protein domains computationally, and compared them to the structure of azurin, providing a model for human mercury interactions. Study of the mercury–azurin adduct, in combination with other known examples of protein–heavy metal interactions, could provide further insight into the chemical mechanisms of toxicological interactions, leading toward a global understanding of the biological speciation of toxic heavy metals.

Publication Title

Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry



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