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Direct Measurements of the Mechanical Stability of Zinc-Thiolate Bonds in Rubredoxin by Single-Molecule Atomic Force Microscopy

TitleDirect Measurements of the Mechanical Stability of Zinc-Thiolate Bonds in Rubredoxin by Single-Molecule Atomic Force Microscopy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsZheng, P, Li, H
JournalBIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL
Volume101
Pagination1467-1473
Date PublishedSEP 21
ISSN0006-3495
Abstract

Zinc (Zn) is one of the most abundant metals and is essential for life. Through ligand interactions, often with thiolate from cysteine residues in proteins, Zn can play important structural roles in organizing protein structure and augmenting protein folding and stability. However, it is difficult to separate the contributions of Zn-ligand interactions from those originating from intrinsic protein folding in experimental studies of Zn-containing metalloproteins, which makes the study of Zn-ligand interactions in proteins challenging. Here, we used single-molecule force spectroscopy to directly measure the mechanical rupture force of the Zn-thiolate bond in Zn-rubredoxin. Our results show that considerable force is needed to rupture Zn-thiolate bonds (similar to 170 pN, which is significantly higher than the force necessary to rupture the coordination bond between Zn and histidines). To our knowledge, our study not only provides new information about Zn-thiolate bonds in rubredoxin, it also opens a new avenue for studying metal-ligand bonds in proteins using single-molecule force spectroscopy.

DOI10.1016/j.bpj.2011.08.021