A novel protein-mineral interface.
Hunter, Dominic JB
Campopiano, Dominic J
Sadler, Peter J
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Transferrins transport Fe3+ and other metal ions in mononuclear-binding sites. We present the first evidence that a member of the transferrin superfamily is able to recognize multi-nuclear oxo-metal clusters, small mineral fragments that are the most abundant forms of many metals in the environment. We show that the ferric ion-binding protein from Neisseria gonorrhoeae (nFbp)readily binds clusters of Fe3+, Ti4+, Zr4+ of Hf4+ in solution. The 1.7A resolution crystal structure of Hf-nFbp reveals three distinct types of clusters in an open, positively charged cleft between two hinged protein domains. A di-tyrosol cluster nucleation motif (Tyr195-Tyr196) is situated at the bottom of this cleft and binds either a trinuclear oxo-Hf cluster, which is capped by phosphate, or a pentanuclear cluster, which in turn can be capped with phosphate. This first high-reesolution structure of a protein-mineral interface suggests a novel metal-uptake mechanism and provides a model for protein-mediated mineralization/dissimilation, which plays a critical role in geochemical processes.