Blue ferrocenium azurin: An organometalloprotein with tunable redox properties

Hee Jung Hwang, James R. Carey, Evan T. Brower, Alan J. Gengenbach, Joseph A. Abramite, Yi Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A ferrocene derivative (2-[(methylsulfonyl)thio]ethylferrocene) (1) has been synthesized and incorporated into apo-azurin from Pseudomonas aeruginosa by covalent attachment to the highly conserved Cys112. The resulting artificial organometalloprotein (a protein containing organometallic compounds in the active site) has been characterized by UV-vis, electrospray mass spectrometry, and cyclic voltammetry (CV). Incorporation of 1 into azurin resulted in a higher solubility of the ferrocene group and improved stability of the ferrocenium species in aqueous solution, as shown by a more intense UV-vis absorption and a more reversible CV of the attached ferrocene group, respectively. The incorporation of 1 also increased the reduction potential of the complex from 402 to 579 mV (vs NHE), consistent with the ferrocene group being encapsulated inside the hydrophobic environment of the protein. Modulation of the reduction potential of ferrocene by residues near the secondary coordination sphere has also been demonstrated. Raising the pH from 4 to 9 resulted in a greater than 80 mV decrease in reduction potential of the protein-bound ferrocene (from 579 to 495 mV), while replacing Met121, an amino acid residue in close proximity to the ferrocene group with a positively charged Arg or negatively charged Glu, resulted in the predicted increase or decrease in reduction potential at all pH values. Similarly, substitution of Met121 with a more hydrophobic Leu raised the reduction potential. The increased solubility, stability, and tune-ability of this organometalloprotein make it an ideal choice for carrying out a number of biological reactions, such as long-range electron transfer or sensing. As an example of such applications, stoichiometric oxidation of ferrocytochrome c by the blue ferrocenium azurin was demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15356-15357
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number44
StatePublished - Nov 9 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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