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Nature chemistry

Self-assembly of the oxy-tyrosinase core and the fundamental components of phenolic hydroxylation.


PMID 22437718

Abstract

The enzyme tyrosinase contains two Cu(I) centres, trigonally coordinated by imidazole nitrogens of six conserved histidine residues. The enzyme activates O(2) to form a µ-η(2):η(2)-peroxo-dicopper(II) core, which hydroxylates tyrosine to a catechol in the first committed step of melanin biosynthesis. Here, we report a family of synthetic peroxo complexes, with spectroscopic and chemical features consistent with those of oxygenated tyrosinase, formed through the self-assembly of monodentate imidazole ligands, Cu(I) and O(2) at -125 °C. An extensively studied complex reproduces the enzymatic electrophilic oxidation of exogenous phenolic substrates to catechols in good stoichiometric yields. The self-assembly and subsequent reactivity support the intrinsic stability of the Cu(2)O(2) core with imidazole ligation, in the absence of a polypeptide framework, and the innate capacity to effect hydroxylation of phenolic substrates. These observations suggest that a foundational role of the protein matrix is to facilitate expression of properties native to the core by bearing the entropic costs of assembly and precluding undesired oxidative degradation pathways.

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