Current Opinion in Chemical Biology | VOL. 69

Highlighting the roles of transition metals and speciation in chemical biology

Publication Date Aug 1, 2022


Transition metal ions play key structural and functional roles, affecting structures of biomolecules and enzyme function. The importance of transition metal ions in chemical biology is, thus, undisputed. However, the aqueous chemistry of metal ions is complicated because they form species in several protonation and redox states. In the presence of metabolites, metal ions can also form coordination complexes. The existence of several species is relevant because enzymes and membrane receptors can distinguish between species even when they are rapidly equilibrating. Thus, metal ions, enzyme cofactors, and therapeutic agents are sensitive to the metal ion speciation chemistry because it affects their interaction with enzymes and other biomolecules. Speciation is also crucial for metal-containing bioorthogonal reactions, since water and metabolites stabilize active catalysts, affect chemoselectivity and reaction yields.


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