Students answer several questions prior to the in class discussion. These answers can be collected to assess their initial understanding of the paper prior to the class discussion. Assessment of the in class discussion could be based on students’ active participation and/or their written responses to the in class questions.
This Learning Object was developed as part of the 2018 VIPEr Summer Workshop and has not yet been used in any of our classes, but we will update this section after implementation.
This is a literature discussion based on a 2018 Inorganic Chemistry paper from the Lehnert group titled “Mechanism of N–N Bond Formation by Transition Metal–Nitrosyl Complexes: Modeling Flavodiiron Nitric Oxide Reductases“(DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.7b02333). The literature discussion points students to which sections of the paper to read, includes questions for students to complete before coming to class, and in class discussion questions. Several of the questions address content that would be appropriate to discuss in a bioinorganic course. Coordination chemistry and mechanism discussion questions are also included.
A successful student will be able to:
Evaluate structures of metal complexes to identify coordination number, geometry (reasonable suggestion), denticity of a coordinated ligand, and d-electrons in FeII/FeIII centers.
Describe the biological relevance of NO.
Identify the biological roles of flavodiiron nitric oxide reductases.
Identify the cofactors in flavodiiron nitric oxide reductase enzymes and describe their roles in converting NO to N2O.
Describe the importance of modeling the FNOR active site and investigating the mechanism of N2O formation through a computational investigation.
Explain the importance of studying model complexes in bioinorganic chemistry and analyze the similarities/differences between a model and active site.
Write a balanced half reaction for the conversion of NO to N2O and analyze a reaction in terms of bonds broken and bonds formed.
Interpret the reaction pathway for the formation of N2O by flavodiiron nitric oxide reductase and identify the reactants, intermediates, transition states, and products.
A successful advanced undergrad student will be able to:
Explain antiferromagnetic coupling.
Apply hard soft acid base theory to examine an intermediate state of the FNOR mechanism and apply the importance of the transition state to product formation of N2O.
Apply molecular orbitals of the NO species and determine donor/acceptor properties with the d-orbitals of the diiron center.
This paper is quite advanced and long, so faculty should direct students to which sections they should read prior to the class discussion. Information about which parts of the paper to read for the discussion are included on the handout. Questions #7 and #8 are more advanced, and may be included/excluded depending on the level of the course.
Having not run this yet because it was collaboatively developed as part of a IONIC VIPEr workshop, we suggest grading questions 1-9 for correctness, either during or after class. Students should be tested later with additional questions based on reaction profiles. The final 3 questions should prepare students to constructively discuss the merits/limitations of computational methods. after discussion, students could be asked to submit a 1-minute paper on how well they can describe the benefits/limitations of compuational chemistry.
Once we use this, we will report back on the results.
The associated paper by Lehnert et al. uses DFT to investigate the reaction mechanism whereby a flavodiiron nitric oxide reductase mimic reduces two NO molecules to N2O. While being a rather long and technical paper, it does include several figures that highlight the reaction profile of the 4-step reaction. This LO is designed to help students learn how to recognize and interpret such diagrams, based on free energy in this case. Furthermore, using a simple form of the Arrhenius equation (eq. 8 from the paper) relating activation energy, temperature and rate, the student can make some initial judgements about how well DFT calculations model various aspects of a reaction mechanism such as the structure of intermediates and transition states, and free energy changes.
Interpret reaction profile energy diagrams.
Use experimental and computational data to calculate half lives from activation energies and vice versa.
Assess the value and limitations of DFT calculations.
Having not run this with a class, we can only suggest that this activity be run in a single class period.
We presume that students have been exposed to the basic idea of reaction profiles.
Teacher should hand out the paper ahead of time and reassure students that they are not going to be expected to understand many of the details of this dense computational research paper. Instead, students should read just the synopsis included on the handout.Teacher should then spend 5 - 10 minutes summarizing key aspects of paper: 1) it's about a nitric oxide reductase mimic that catalyzes the reaction 2NO → N2O + O; 2) NO is important signaling molecule; 3) DFT is a computational method to model almost any chemical molecule, including hypothetical intermediates and transition states.
Students should work through questions in groups of 2 - 4. The final question (12) is somewhat openended and the teacher should be prepared to lead a wrap up discussion on the benefits and limitations of computational chemistry.