Design of a Protein that Spans the Entire Range of Physiological Redox Potentials


Dr. Yi Lu from the University of Illinois has designed a single protein to tune its electron-transfer ability across a 2-V range of physiological redox potentials. The design of azurin covers a range from +970 mV to -954 mV vs. standard hydrogen electrode (SHE), by mutating only five residues and using two metal ions. Given the wide range of potentials attainable from a single protein possessing the same overall fold and surface properties, these azurin variants enable scientists and engineers to take advantage of these water-soluble redox agents for biochemical and biotechnological applications, such as solar energy transfer and other alternative energy conversions. Since tuning the potentials of many inorganic, bioinorganic and organometallic catalysts can result in catalysts with different oxidation states with dramatically different catalytic efficiency for different substrates, this technology allows tuning of redox properties of numerous catalysts for even wider applications, such as small molecule activation and synthesis of important intermediates or products for pharmaceutical applications.


  • Ability to tune entire range of redox potentials
  • Tuned azurins can be used as water-soluble redox agents