Dinuclear Zn(II) complex catalyzed phosphodiester cleavage proceeds via a concerted mechanism: A density functional theory study


Density functional theory (DFT) calculations were used to study the mechanism for the cleavage reaction of the RNA analogue HpPNP (HpPNP = 2-hydroxypropyl-4-nitrophenyl phosphate) catalyzed by the dinuclear Zn(II) complex of 1,3-bis(1,4,7-triazacyclonon-1-yl)-2-hydroxypropane (Zn 2(L2O)). We present a binding mode in which each terminal phosphoryl oxygen atom binds to one zinc center, respectively, and the nucleophilic 2-hydroxypropyl group coordinates to one of the zinc ions, while the hydroxide from deprotonation of a water molecule coordinates to the other zinc ion. Our calculations found a concerted mechanism for the HpPNP cleavage with a 16.5 kcal/mol reaction barrier. An alternative proposed stepwise mechanism through a pentavalent oxyphosphorane dianion reaction intermediate for the HpPNP cleavage was found to be less feasible with a significantly higher energy barrier. In this stepwise mechanism, the deprotonation of the nucleophilic 2-hydroxypropyl group is accompanied with nucleophilic attack in the rate-determining step. Calculations of the nucleophile 18O kinetic isotope effect (KIE) and leaving 18O KIE for the concerted mechanism are in reasonably good agreement with the experimental values. Our results indicate a specific-base catalysis mechanism takes place in which the deprotonation of the nucleophilic 2-hydroxypropyl group occurs in a pre-equilibrium step followed by a nucleophilic attack on the phosphorus center. Detailed comparison of the geometric and electronic structure for the HpPNP cleavage reaction mechanisms in the presence/absence of catalyst revealed that the catalyst significantly altered the determining-step transition state to become far more associative or tight, that is, bond formation to the nucleophile was remarkably more advanced than leaving group bond fission in the catalyzed mechanism. Our results are consistent with and provide a reliable interpretation for the experimental observations that suggest the reaction occurs by a concerted mechanism (see Humphry, T.; Iyer, S.; Iranzo, O.; Morrow, J. R.; Richard, J. P.; Paneth, P.; Hengge, A. C. J. Am. Chem. Soc.2008, 130, 17858-17866) and has a specific-base catalysis character (see Yang, M.-Y.; Iranzo, O.; Richard, J. P.; Morrow, J. R. J. Am. Chem. Soc.2005, 127, 1064-1065). © 2011 American Chemical Society.

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Journal of the American Chemical Society