A Caltech Library Service

Unnatural amino acids in the synthesis and semisynthesis of metalloprotein motifs


Fisher, Stewart L. (1994) Unnatural amino acids in the synthesis and semisynthesis of metalloprotein motifs. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/aww9-zr55.


The design, synthesis, and characterization of two novel metalloprotein motifs is presented. The first project involved the design and construction of a protein motif which was programmed to form a tetradentate metal complex upon the addition of metal cations. The overall structure of the motif was based on a ββ super-secondary structure consisting of a flexible peptide sequence flanked by metal binding regions located at the carboxy and amino termini. The metal binding region near the amino terminus was constructed from a reverse turn motif with two metal ligating residues, (2R, 3R)-β-methyl-cysteine and histidine. Selection of the peptide sequence for this region was based on the conformational analysis of a series of tetrapeptides designed to form reverse turns in solution.

The stereospecific syntheses of a series of novel bipyridyl- and phenanthrolylsubstituted amino acids was carried out to provide ligands for the carboxy terminus metal binding region. These residues were incorporated into peptide sequences using solid phase peptide synthesis protocols, and metal binding studies indicated that the metal binding properties of these ligands was dictated by the specific regioisomer of the heteroaromatic ring and the peptide primary sequence.

Finally, a peptide containing optimized components for the metal binding regions was prepared to test the ability of the compound to form the desired intramolecular peptide:metal cation complexes. Metal binding studies demonstrated that the peptide formed monomeric complexes with very high metal cation binding affinities and that the two metal binding regions act cooperatively in the metal binding process. The use of these systems in the design of proteins capable of regulating naturally occurring proteins is discussed.

The second project involved the semisynthesis of two horse heart cytochrome c mutants incorporating the bipyridyl-amino acids at position 72 of the protein sequence. Structural studies on the proteins indicated that the bipyridyl amino acids had a neglible effect on the protein structure. One of the mutants was modified with Ru(bpy)_2^(+2) to form a redox-active protein, and the modified protein was found to have enhanced electron transfer properties between the heme and the introduced metal site.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Chemistry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Imperiali, Barbara
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:17 December 1993
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05012013-144202651
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7652
Deposited On:02 May 2013 14:04
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:19

Thesis Files

PDF - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page