QM and QM/MM studies of uranyl fluorides in the gas and aqueous phases and in the hydrophobic cavities of tetrabrachion

Samuel O. Odoh, Sean M. Walker, Markus Meier, Jörg Stetefeld, Georg Schreckenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The structural properties and electronic structures of pentacoordinated uranyl complexes belonging to the [UO2Fn(H 2O)5-n]2-n series have been studied in the gas and aqueous phases using density functionals with relativistic pseudopotentials and all-electron basis sets in the gas-phase calculations in combination with COSMO in the aqueous phase. In addition, the conformational orientation and structural and electronic properties of [UO2F5] 3- in the hydrophobic cavities of the right-handed coiled-coil (RHCC) protein of tetrabrachion have been determined using the hybrid QM/MM method. Although there is good agreement between the available experimental geometrical parameters and the values obtained in the aqueous phase using pseudopotentials or all-electron basis sets, variation of the uranyl U=O bond with the number of fluoride ligands is only truly captured after the inclusion of five water molecules in the second coordination sphere around the molecules. The docking procedure used in this work shows that there are only two possible orientations of the uranyl group of [UO2F5]3- embedded in the hydrophobic cavities of the RHCC protein. The two orientations are exclusively along the axes perpendicular to the protein axial channel with no possible orientation of the uranyl group along the axial channel because of both steric effects and interaction with the alkyl chain of the isoleucine residues pointing into the axial channel. In addition, the embedded complex is always positioned nearer to the isoleucine residues at the N-terminal ends of the hydrophobic cavities. Energy analysis, however, reveals that both conformations can only be observed in cavity 2, the largest hydrophobic cavity. The structural and electronic properties of the ligand embedded in this cavity are very similar to those of the gas-phase structure. A comparable study of [Pt(CN) 6]2- and the anticancer drug cisplatin, [PtCl 2(NH3)2], in cavity 2, revealed the existence of just two orientations for the former, similar to the uranyl complex, and multiple orientations for the latter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3141-3152
Number of pages12
JournalInorganic chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 4 2011
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'QM and QM/MM studies of uranyl fluorides in the gas and aqueous phases and in the hydrophobic cavities of tetrabrachion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this