Journal article Open Access
Czescik, Joanna; Zamolo, Susanna; Darbre, Tamis; Rigo, Riccardo; Sissi, Claudia; Pecina, Adam; Riccardi, Laura; De Vivo, Marco; Mancin, Fabrizio; Scrimin, Paolo
Similarly to enzymes, functionalized gold nanoparticles efficiently catalyze chemical reactions, hence the term nanozymes. Herein, we present our results showing how surface-passivated gold nanoparticles behave as synthetic nanonucleases, able to cleave pBR322 plasmid DNA with the highest efficiency reported so far for catalysts based on a single metal ion mechanism. Experimental and computational data indicate that we have been successful in creating a catalytic site precisely mimicking that suggested for natural metallonucleases relying on a single metal ion for their activity. It comprises one Zn(II) ion to which a phosphate diester of DNA is coordinated. Importantly, as in nucleic acids-processing enzymes, a positively charged arginine plays a key role by assisting with transition state stabilization and by reducing the pKa of the nucleophilic alcohol of a serine. Our results also show how designing a catalyst for a model substrate (bis-p-nitrophenylphosphate) may provide wrong indications as for its efficiency when it is tested against the real target (plasmid DNA).
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