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Despite nature's prevalent use of metals as prosthetics to adapt or enhance the behaviour of proteins, our ability to programme such architectural organization remains underdeveloped. Multi-metal clusters buried in proteins underpin the most remarkable chemical transformations in nature, but we are not yet in a position to fully mimic or exploit such systems. With the advent of copious, relevant structural information, judicious mechanistic studies and the use of accessible computational methods in protein design coupled with new synthetic methods for building biomacromolecules, we can envisage a 'new dawn' that will allow us to build de novo metalloenzymes that move beyond mono-metal centres. In particular, we highlight the need for systems that approach the multi-centred clusters that have evolved to couple electron shuttling with catalysis. Such hybrids may be viewed as exciting mid-points between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts which also exploit the primary benefits of biocatalysis.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Math Phys Eng Sci

Publication Date





artificial metalloproteins, de novo design, heterofunctional metalloclusters, heterometallic proteins, hydrogenase engineering, iron–sulfur proteins