Journal of the American Chemical Society

An arsenical-maleimide for the generation of new targeted biochemical reagents.

PMID 23384038


The finding that arsenic trioxide is an effective treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia has renewed interest in the pharmacological uses of inorganic and organic arsenicals. Here we synthesized and characterized the reactivity of an arsenical-maleimide (As-Mal) that can be efficiently conjugated to exposed cysteine residues in peptides and proteins with the ultimate goal of directing these As(III) species to vicinal thiols in susceptible targets within cells and tissues. As-Mal conjugated to a surface cysteine in thioredoxin provides a more potent inhibitor for Escherichia coli thioredoxin reductase than comparable simple inorganic or organic arsenicals. As-Mal can be coupled to all of the eight cysteine residues of reduced unfolded ribonuclease A or to site-specific locations using appropriate cysteine mutations. We observed particularly strong binding to the two CxxC motifs of protein disulfide isomerase using a mutant RNase in which As-Mal was specifically incorporated at residues 26 and 110. As-Mal will serve as a facile reagent for the incorporation of As(III) species into a wide range of thiol-containing proteins, biomaterials, and surfaces.