Tyrosinase and catechol oxidase activity of copper(I) complexes supported by imidazole-based ligands: structure–reactivity correlations


Four new imidazole-based ligands, 4-((1H-imidazol-4-yl)methyl)-2-phenyl-4,5-dihydrooxyzole (L OL 1), 4-((1H-imidazol-4-yl)methyl)-2-(tert-butyl)-4,5-dihydrooxyzole (L OL 2), 4-((1H-imidazol-4-yl)methyl)-2-methyl-4,5-dihydrooxyzole (L OL 3), and N-(2,2-dimethylpropylidene)-2-(1-trityl-1H-imidazol-4-yl-)ethyl amine (L imz 1), have been synthesized. The corresponding copper(I) complexes [Cu(I)(L OL 1)(CH3CN)]PF6 (CuL OL 1), [Cu(I)(L OL 2)(CH3CN)]PF6 (CuL OL 2), [Cu(I)(L OL 3)(CH3CN)]PF6 (CuL OL 3), [Cu(I)(L imz 1)(CH3CN)2]PF6 (CuL imz 1) as well as the Cu(I) complex derived from the known ligand bis(1-methylimidazol-2-yl)methane (BIMZ), [Cu(I)(BIMZ)(CH3CN)]PF6 (CuBIMZ), are screened as catalysts for the oxidation of 3,5-di-tert-butylcatechol (3,5-DTBC-H2) to 3,5-di-tert-butylquinone (3,5-DTBQ). The primary reaction product of these oxidations is 3,5-di-tert-butylsemiquinone (3,5-DTBSQ) which slowly converts to 3,5-DTBQ. Saturation kinetic studies reveal a trend of catalytic activity in the order CuL OL 3 ≈ CuL OL 1 > CuBIMZ > CuL OL 2 > CuL imz 1. Additionally, the catalytic activity of the copper(I) complexes towards the oxygenation of monophenols is investigated. As substrates 2,4-di-tert-butylphenol (2,4-DTBP-H), 3-tert-butylphenol (3-TBP-H), 4-methoxyphenol (4-MeOP-H), N-acetyl-l-tyrosine ethyl ester monohydrate (NATEE) and 8-hydroxyquinoline are employed. The oxygenation products are identified and characterized with the help of UV/Vis and NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and fluorescence measurements. Whereas the copper complexes with ligands containing combinations of imidazole and imine functions or two imidazole units (CuL imz 1 and CuBIMZ) are found to exhibit catalytic tyrosinase activity, the systems with ligands containing oxazoline just mediate a stoichiometric conversion. Correlations between the structures of the complexes and their reactivities are discussed.

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We express our gratitude to Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), CAU Kiel and COST CM 1003 for support of this research. Thanks to Miriam Schehr for the introduction to operate with the Isolera One fabricated by Biotage, Marcel Dommaschk for the help measuring the fluorescence spectra and Michael Wendt for performing the XRPD measurements.

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Correspondence to Felix Tuczek.

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Dedicated to Prof. Dr. Edward I. Solomon in honor of the ACS Alfred Bader Award.

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Wendt, F., Näther, C. & Tuczek, F. Tyrosinase and catechol oxidase activity of copper(I) complexes supported by imidazole-based ligands: structure–reactivity correlations. J Biol Inorg Chem 21, 777–792 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00775-016-1370-y

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  • Type 3 copper enzymes
  • Tyrosinase
  • Catechol oxidase
  • Kinetics
  • Dioxygen activation