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Lithium-Protein Interactions: Analysis of Lithium-Containing Protein Crystal Structures Deposited in the Protein Data Bank


Oliviero Carugo*   Pages 1 - 7 ( 7 )


Background: Despite the fact that lithium is not a biologically essential metallic element, its pharmacological properties are well known and human exposure to lithium is increasingly possible because of its used in aerospace industry and in batteries

Objective: Lithium-protein interactions are therefore interesting and the surveys of the structures of lithium-protein complexes is described in this paper.

Method: A high quality non-redundant set of lithium containing protein crystal structures was extracted from the Protein Data Bank and the stereochemistry of the lithium first coordination sphere was examined in detail.

Result: Four main observations were reported: (i) lithium interacts preferably with oxygen atoms; (ii) preferably with side-chain atoms; (iii) preferably with Asp or Glu carboxylates; (iv) the coordination number tends to be four with stereochemical parameters similar to those observed in small molecules containing lithium

Conclusion: Although structural information on lithium-protein, available from the Protein Data Bank, is relatively scarce, these trends appears to be so clear that one may suppose that they will be confirmed by further data that will join the Protein Data Bank in the future.


coordination compounds, Lithium cation, Lithium toxicity, Protein crystal structure, Protein Data Bank, Stereochemistry


University of Pavia, Dept. Chemistry

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