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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Michael J. Maroney

Second Advisor

Dhandapani Venkataraman

Third Advisor

Patricia A. Bianconi

Fourth Advisor

David J. Gross


Computational investigations have implicated the amidate ligand in nickel superoxide dismutase (NiSOD) in stabilizing Ni-centered redox catalysis and in preventing cysteine thiolate ligand oxidation. To test these predictions, we used an experimental approach utilizing a semisynthetic scheme that employs native chemical ligation of a pentapeptide (HCDLP) to recombinant S. coelicolor NiSOD lacking these N-terminal residues, NΔ5-NiSOD. Wild-type enzyme produced in this manner exhibits the characteristic spectral properties of recombinant WT-NiSOD and is as catalytically active. The semisynthetic scheme was also employed to construct a variant where the amidate ligand was converted to a secondary amine, H1*-NiSOD, a novel strategy that retains a backbone N-donor atom. The H1*-NiSOD variant was found to have only ~1% of the catalytic activity of the recombinant wild-type enzyme, and have altered spectroscopic properties. X-ray absorption spectroscopy reveals a four-coordinate planar site with N2S2-donor ligands, consistent with electronic absorption spectroscopic results indicating that the Ni center in H1*-NiSOD is mostly reduced in the as-isolated sample, as opposed to 50:50 Ni(II)/Ni(III) mixture that is typical for the recombinant wild-type enzyme. The EPR spectrum of as-isolated H1*-NiSOD accounts for ~11% of the Ni in the sample and is similar to WT-NiSOD, but more axial, with gz < gx,y. 14N-hyperfine is observed on gz, confirming the addition of the apical histidine ligand in the Ni(III) complex. The altered electronic properties and implications for redox catalysis are discussed in light of predictions based on synthetic and computational models.