Mercury(II) metallation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa azurin has been characterized structurally and biochemically. The X-ray crystal structure at 1.5 Å of mercury(II) metallated azurin confirms the coordination of mercury at the copper binding active site and a second surface site. These findings are further validated by NMR, Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization spectrometry (MALDI), and UV-visible spectroscopic methods indicating copper displacement from the wild-type protein. Bioinformatic analysis has identified homologous human protein domains computationally, and compared them to the structure of azurin, providing a model for human mercury interactions. Study of the mercury-azurin adduct, in combination with other known examples of protein-heavy metal interactions, could provide further insight into the chemical mechanisms of toxicological interactions, leading toward a global understanding of the biological speciation of toxic heavy metals.
- X-ray structure