ConspectusMetalloproteins are essential to numerous reactions in nature, and constitute approximately one-third of all known proteins. Molecular dynamics of proteins has been elucidated with great success both by experimental and theoretical methods, revealing atomic level details of function involving the organic constituents on a broad spectrum of time scales. However, the characterization of dynamics at biomolecular metal sites on nanosecond time scales is scarce in the literature. The aqua ions of many biologically relevant metal ions exhibit exchange of water molecules on the nanosecond time scale or faster, often defining their reactivity in aqueous solution, and this is presumably also a relevant time scale for the making and breaking of coordination bonds between metal ions and ligands at protein metal sites. Ligand exchange dynamics is critical for a variety of elementary steps of reactions in metallobiochemistry, for example, association and dissociation of metal bound water, association of substrate and dissociation of product in the catalytic cycle of metalloenzymes, at regulatory metal sites which require binding and dissociation of metal ions, as well as in the transport of metal ions across cell membranes or between proteins involved in metal ion homeostasis.In Perturbed Angular Correlation of γ-rays (PAC) spectroscopy, the correlation in time and space of two γ-rays emitted successively in a nuclear decay is recorded, reflecting the hyperfine interactions of the PAC probe nucleus with the surroundings. This allows for characterization of molecular and electronic structure as well as nanosecond dynamics at the PAC probe binding site. Herein, selected examples describing the application of PAC spectroscopy in probing the dynamics at protein metal sites are presented, including (1) exchange of Cd2+ bound water in de novo designed synthetic proteins, and the effect of remote mutations on metal site dynamics; (2) dynamics at the β-lactamase active site, where the metal ion appears to jump between the two adjacent sites; (3) structural relaxation in small blue copper proteins upon 111Ag+ to 111Cd2+ transformation in radioactive nuclear decay; (4) metal ion transfer between two HAH1 proteins with change in coordination number; and (5) metal ion sensor proteins with two coexisting metal site structures.With this Account, we hope to make our modest contribution to the field and perhaps spur additional interest in dynamics at protein metal sites, which we consider to be severely underexplored. Relatively little is known about detailed atomic motions at metal sites, for example, how ligand exchange processes affect protein function, and how the amino acid composition of the protein may control this facet of metal site characteristics. We also aim to provide the reader with a qualitative impression of the possibilities offered by PAC spectroscopy in bioinorganic chemistry, especially when elucidating dynamics at protein metal sites, and finally present data that may serve as benchmarks on a relevant time scale for development and tests of theoretical molecular dynamics methods applied to biomolecular metal sites.
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