Post-translational insertion of boron in proteins to probe and modulate function.
Mollner TA., Isenegger PG., Josephson B., Buchanan C., Lercher L., Oehlrich D., Hansen DF., Mohammed S., Baldwin AJ., Gouverneur V., Davis BG.
Boron is absent in proteins, yet is a micronutrient. It possesses unique bonding that could expand biological function including modes of Lewis acidity not available to typical elements of life. Here we show that post-translational Cβ-Bγ bond formation provides mild, direct, site-selective access to the minimally sized residue boronoalanine (Bal) in proteins. Precise anchoring of boron within complex biomolecular systems allows dative bond-mediated, site-dependent protein Lewis acid-base-pairing (LABP) by Bal. Dynamic protein-LABP creates tunable inter- and intramolecular ligand-host interactions, while reactive protein-LABP reveals reactively accessible sites through migratory boron-to-oxygen Cβ-Oγ covalent bond formation. These modes of dative bonding can also generate de novo function, such as control of thermo- and proteolytic stability in a target protein, or observation of transient structural features via chemical exchange. These results indicate that controlled insertion of boron facilitates stability modulation, structure determination, de novo binding activities and redox-responsive 'mutation'.