, Volume 61, Issue 17, pp 2184-2188

Lanthanide-binding peptides and the enzymes that Might Have Been

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The trivalent lanthanide ions are chemically similar to Ca(II) ions, making them useful Ca analogs for a multitude of applications. In addition, Ln(III) ions are efficient catalysts of hydrolysis due to their much stronger Lewis acidity relative to Ca(II) ions. Ln-binding peptides thus offer both the opportunity to study known Ca sites as well as to explore new biological functions with an entire family of spectroscopically rich and reactive ions. This review discusses Ln-binding peptides in three roles: (i) as models of Ca-protein structure and function, (ii) as spectroscopic tags for protein expression and characterization and (iii) as designed artificial endonucleases. The creation of hydrolytically active Ln peptides that can fold, bind, cleave and discriminate among substrates shows that the design of Ln enzymes can be accomplished, and they will serve as versatile biochemical tools to investigate protein folding, structure and nuclease function.

Received 10 April 2004; received after revision 17 May 2004; accepted 28 May 2004