Introduction to Bioinorganic Chemistry:
Bioinorganic or biological inorganic chemistry is the discipline dealing with the interaction between inorganic substances and molecules of biological interest.
Living organisms store and transport transition metals both to provide appropriate concentrations of them for use in metalloproteins or cofactors and to protect themselves against the toxic effects of metal excesses; metalloproteins and metal cofactors are found in plants, animals, and microorganisms. The normal concentration range for each metal in biological systems is narrow, with both deficiencies and excesses causing pathological changes. In multicellular organisms, composed of a variety of specialized cell types, the storage of transition metals and the synthesis of the transporter molecules are not carried out by all types of cells, but rather by specific cells that specialize in these tasks. The form of the metals is always ionic, but the oxidation state can vary, depending on biological needs. Transition metals for which biological storage and transport are significant are, in order of decreasing abundance in living organisms: iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum, cobalt, chromium, vanadium, and nickel. Although zinc is not strictly a transition metal, it shares many bioinorganic properties with transition metals and is considered with them in this chapter. Knowledge of iron storage and transport is more complete than for any other metal in the group.
The metals are generally found either bound directly to proteins or in cofactors such as porphyrins or cobalamins, or in clusters that are in tum bound by the protein; the ligands are usually 0, N, S, or C. Proteins with which transition metals and zinc are most commonly associated catalyse the intramolecular or intermolecular rearrangement of electrons. Although the redox properties of the metals are important in many of the reactions, in others the metal appears to contribute to the structure of the active state, e.g., zinc in the Cu-Zn dismutase and some of the iron in the photosynthetic reaction centre. Sometimes equivalent reactions are catalysed by proteins with different metal centres; the metal-binding sites and proteins have evolved separately for each type of metal centre.
Future direction of Bioinorganic Chemistry
The research programme is highly interdisciplinary involving chemistry, physics, biology and pharmacology, with potential for the discovery of truly novel medicines, especially for the treatment of diseases and conditions which are currently intractable, such as cancer. The challenging and ambitious goals of the present work involve transition metal complexes with novel chemical and biochemical mechanisms of action. They will contain novel features which allow them (i) to be selectively activated by light in cells, or (ii) to be activated by a structural transition, or (ii) to exhibit catalytic activity in cells. Advances in bioinorganic chemistry since the 1970s have been driven by three factors: rapid determination of high-resolution structures of proteins and other biomolecules, utilization of powerful spectroscopic tools for studies of both structures and dynamics, and the widespread use of macromolecular engineering to create new biologically relevant structures.
This ground-breaking research potentially has a very high impact and is based on recent discoveries in the applicant s laboratory.
It is a rather wide field because it addresses the role, uptake, and fate of elements essential for life, the response of living organisms to toxic inorganic substances, the function of metal-based drugs, the synthetic production of functional models, the production of MRI contrast agents in medical applications, the development of theoretical models for the above topics, and so on.
Current research addressing the problems associated with platinum drugs has focused on other metal-based therapeutics that have different modes of action and on prodrug and targeting strategies in an effort to diminish the side-effects of cisplatin chemotherapy.
Both metal-centred and ligand-centred redox processes are of interest. The former can trigger activation by ligand release (e.g. reduction of substitution-inert CoIII to labile CoII), and the latter can trigger the initiation of the production of reactive oxygen species (e.g. azopyridine RuII arenes), as part of the cytotoxic mechanism. The possibility of using light to activate metal complexes selectively in tumour cells is also an intriguing one. Reactions of excited-state metal complexes can be distinctly different from those of ground-state complexes, giving rise to the possibility of interfering in biochemical pathways with highly reactive novel species.
Modern theoretical methods (e.g. Amsterdam Density Functional Theory) and techniques (e.g. high-resolution electrospray mass spectrometry and multinuclear polarization transfer NMR spectroscopy) are likely to aid our understanding of the chemical and biochemical reactivity of metal complexes and the construction of meaningful structure-activity relationships. For this purpose, studies of the chemistry of metal complexes under physiologically relevant conditions (e.g. biological screening conditions) become very important.
A huge challenge to bio-inorganic chemists is the drive to optimize existing and develop new technology that will improve the performance of catalysts to save energy and aim for sustainable developments. In this respect, the clarification of the underlying reaction mechanisms in order to understand the underlying chemical processes, whether of industrial, environmental or biological significance, is of utmost importance to the whole world in order to tackle threatening climate changes and severe pollution in densely populated cities. Here bio-inorganic chemistry can indeed have an impact on the quality of life and the wellbeing of the increasing population of the world.
In the Department of Chemistry, Adamas University, Bioinorganic Chemistry has been offered as a minor course both at UG and PG levels. chemists study the function of metal-containing compounds within living organisms. Students who concentrate on bioinorganic chemistry often go on to pursue extremely successful careers in medicine, research, and business. Following career opportunities are available for a bioinorganic chemist:
- Post-Doctoral Scientist
- Bioconjugate chemist
- Biotechnology scientist
- Patent Agent/Technology specialist
- Metal-associated pathologists
- Assistant Professor
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