In 2011, I was fortunate to have Nicolai Lehnert come and speak to my bioinorganic class on his work modeling the FeB (non heme iron) center in bacterial Nitric Oxide reductase. He suggested this paper to prepare the students for his talk and I developed this reading guide to help them (the students) get more out of the reading.
Biomimetic modeling of enzymatic centers may have largely fallen out of favor with the funding agencies, but it is still one of the most useful methods to obtain information about how these centers work in enzymes. This paper and the results presented therein provide excellent examples of the thought- processes that go into imagining bioinorganic model systems, especially of the role that classical coordination chemistry and steric factors play in designing such systems.
The exercise actually had them look up reports for the bacterial center first (a source for the source), so that they could see the significance of the target, and the structure that the authors of the primary reference were trying to model. This was to empahasize the building up nature of scientific research , as well as the fact that often many different scientists apply various skill sets to tackle a big problem in a variety of tactics.
I also had the students balance the redox reaction carried out by this enzyme for a little review of general chemistry level material.
The challenge question on the reading guide asked the students to use their knowledge of HSAB theory (a topic which we had covered in class) to discuss the redox potentials of the model presented in the primary reference and a previous model on which the work had built.
Finally, a "softball"... I try to include a question on my reading guides at which i know that every student can be successful, so the last question is simply a read and regurgitate question about techniques used in the paper. However, for the more motivated student, this question could lead that student to go and look up information on how the unfamiliar techniques work and what information can be gleaned from them.
In 2014, I have re-worked the original reading guide with a few more advanced questions for use in the 2014 VIPEr workshop, Bioinorganic Applications of Coordination Chemistry and added a detailed teaching key.
- A student should be able to locate a report in the primary literature and provide a reference for that source.
- A student should be able to balance a redox reaction, in neutral, acidic or basic conditions, as called for by the experimental conditions.
- A student should be able to apply principles of Hard-Soft-Acid Base (HSAB) theory to the variations in redox potentials in metal complexes, including enzymes.
Obviously, not everyone can have Dr Lehnert come and present the results of this work, but even in the absence of that, the paper is a good and through presentation of an important approach to understanding the roles that transition metals paly in enzymatic systems.
I delivered the primary article to students via email two days prior to Professor Lehnert's visit.