The M centers of the mononuclear monooxygenases peptidylglycine monooxygenase (PHM) and dopamine β-monooxygenase bind and activate dioxygen en route to substrate hydroxylation. Recently, we reported the rational design of a protein-based model in which the CusF metallochaperone was repurposed via a His to Met mutation to act as a structural and spectroscopic biomimic. The PHM M site exhibits a number of unusual attributes, including a His2Met ligand set, a fluxional Cu(I)-S(Met) bond, tight binding of exogenous ligands CO and N3 -, and complete coupling of oxygen reduction to substrate hydroxylation even at extremely low turnover rates. In particular, mutation of the Met ligand to His completely eliminates the catalytic activity despite the propensity of CuI-His3 centers to bind and activate dioxygen in other metalloenzyme systems. Here, we further develop the CusF-based model to explore methionine variants in which Met is replaced by selenomethionine (SeM) and histidine. We examine the effects on coordinate structure and exogenous ligand binding via X-ray absorption spectroscopy and electron paramagnetic resonance and probe the consequences of mutations on redox chemistry via studies of the reduction by ascorbate and oxidation via molecular oxygen. The M-site model is three-coordinate in the Cu(I) state and binds CO to form a four-coordinate carbonyl. In the oxidized forms, the coordination changes to tetragonal five-coordinate with a long axial Met ligand that like the enzymes is undetectable at either the Cu or Se K edges. The EXAFS data at the Se K edge of the SeM variant provide unique information about the nature of the Cu-methionine bond that is likewise weak and fluxional. Kinetic studies document the sluggish reactivity of the Cu(I) complexes with molecular oxygen and rapid rates of reduction of the Cu(II) complexes by ascorbate, indicating a remarkable stability of the Cu(I) state in all three derivatives. The results show little difference between the Met ligand and its SeM and His congeners and suggest that the Met contributes to catalysis in ways that are more complex than simple perturbation of the redox chemistry. Overall, the results stimulate a critical re-examination of the canonical reaction mechanisms of the mononuclear copper monooxygenases.
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