Uranium exerts acute toxicity by binding to pyrroloquinoline quinone cofactor
VanEngelen, Michael R.
Szilagyi, Robert K.
Lee, Brady D.
Apel, William A.
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Uranium as an environmental contaminant has been shown to be toxic to eukaryotes and prokaryotes; however, no specific mechanisms of uranium toxicity have been proposed so far. Here a combination of in vivo, in vitro, and in silico studies are presented describing direct inhibition of pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ)-dependent growth and metabolism by uranyl cations. Electrospray-ionization mass spectroscopy, UV-vis optical spectroscopy, competitive Ca2+/uranyl binding studies, relevant crystal structures, and molecular modeling unequivocally indicate the preferred binding of uranyl simultaneously to the carboxyl oxygen, pyridine nitrogen, and quinone oxygen of the PQQmolecule. The observed toxicity patterns are consistent with the biotic ligand model of acute metal toxicity. In addition to the environmental implications, this work represents the first proposed molecular mechanism of uranium toxicity in bacteria, and has relevance for uranium toxicity in many living systems.
VanEngelen MR, Szilagyi RK, Gerlach R, Lee BD, Apel WA, Peyton BM, "Uranium exerts acute toxicity by binding to pyrroloquinoline quinone cofactor," Environmental Science & Technology, 2011 45(3):937–942