Bidentate ligation of heme analogues; novel biomimetics of the peroxidase active site

Gonen Ashkenasy, David Margulies, Clifford E. Felder, Abraham Shanzer, Linda S. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The multifunctional nature of proteins that have iron-heme cofactors with noncovalent histidine linkage to the protein is controlled by the heme environment. Previous studies of these active-site structures show that the primary difference is the length of the iron-proximal histidine bond, which can be controlled by the degree of H-bonding to this histidine. Great efforts to mimic these functions with synthetic analogues have been made for more than two decades. The peroxidase models resulted in several catalytic systems capable of a large range of oxidative transformations. Most of these model systems modified the porphyrin ring covalently by directly binding auxiliary elements that control and facilitate reactivity; for example, electron- donating or -withdrawing substituents. A biomimetic approach to enzyme mimicking would have taken a different route, by attempting to keep the porphyrin ring system unaltered, as close as possible to its native form, and introducing all modifications at or close to the axial coordination sites. Such a model system would be less demanding synthetically, would make it easy to study the effect of a single structural modification, and might even provide a way to probe effects resulting from porphyrin exchange. We introduce here an alternative model system based on these principles. It consists of a two component system: a bis-imidazolyl ligand and an iron-porphyrin (readily substituted by a hemin). All modifications were introduced only to the ligand that engulfs the porphyrin and binds to the iron's fifth and sixth coordination sites. We describe the design, synthesis, and characterization of nine different model compounds with increased complexity. The primary tool for characterizing the environment of each complex Fe111 center was the Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS) measurements, supported by UV/Vis, IR, and NMR spectroscopy and by molecular modeling. Introduction of asymmetry, by attaching different imidazoles as head groups, led to the formation of two axial bonds of different length. Addition of H-bonds to one of the imidazoles in an advanced model increased this differentiation and expanded the porphyrin ring. These complexes were found to be almost identical in structure to peroxidase active sites. Similarly to the peroxidases and other synthetic models, these compounds stabilize the green, compound I-like intermediate, and catalyze the oxidation of organic substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4017-4026
Number of pages10
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomimetic catalysis
  • Heme proteins
  • N ligands
  • Porphyrinoids
  • Protein models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry


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