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Nickel-containing superoxide dismutases (NiSODs) represent a novel approach to the detoxification of superoxide in biology and thus contribute to the biodiversity of mechanisms for the removal of reactive oxygen species (ROS). While Ni ions play critical roles in anaerobic microbial redox (hydrogenases and CO dehydrogenase/acetyl coenzyme A synthase), they have never been associated with oxygen metabolism. Several SODs have been characterized from numerous sources and are classified by their catalytic metal as Cu/ZnSOD, MnSOD, or FeSOD. Whereas aqueous solutions of Cu(II), Mn(II), and Fe(II) ions are capable of catalyzing the dismutation of superoxide, solutions of Ni(II) are not. Nonetheless, NiSOD catalyzes the reaction at the diffusion-controlled limit (~10(9) M(-1) s(-1)). To do this, nature has created a Ni coordination unit with the appropriate Ni(III/II) redox potential (~0.090 V vs Ag/AgCl). This potential is achieved by a unique ligand set comprised of residues from the N-terminus of the protein: Cys2 and Cys6 thiolates, the amino terminus and imidazole side chain of His1, and a peptide N-donor from Cys2. Over the past several years, synthetic modeling efforts by several groups have provided insight into understanding the intrinsic properties of this unusual Ni coordination site. Such analogues have revealed information regarding the (i) electrochemical properties that support Ni-based redox, (ii) oxidative protection and/or stability of the coordinated CysS ligands, (iii) probable H(+) sources for H(2)O(2) formation, and (iv) nature of the Ni coordination geometry throughout catalysis. This review includes the results and implications of such biomimetic work as it pertains to the structure and function of NiSOD.


Ellen P Broering, Phan T Truong, Eric M Gale, Todd C Harrop. Synthetic analogues of nickel superoxide dismutase: a new role for nickel in biology. Biochemistry. 2013 Jan 8;52(1):4-18

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PMID: 23240653

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