It is demonstrated herein that the FAD-dependent enzyme glutathione reductase (GR) catalyzes the NADPH-dependent reduction of AuCl4 -, forming gold nanoparticles at the active site that are tightly bound through the catalytic cysteines. The nanoparticles can be removed from the GR active site with thiol reagents such as 2-mercaptoethanol. The deep enzyme active site cavity stabilizes very small metallic clusters and prevents them from aggregating in the absence of capping ligands. The behavior of the GR-nanoparticle complexes in solution, and their electrochemical properties when immobilized on graphite paper electrodes are presented. It is shown that the borohydride ion, a known reducing agent for GR, is catalytically oxidized by larger GR-nanoparticle (≥ 150 gold atoms) complexes generating catalytic currents, whereas NADPH (the natural reducing agent for GR) is not. It is proposed that the surface of the Toray graphite paper electrode employed here interferes with NADPH binding to the GR-nanoparticle complex. The catalytic currents with borohydride begin at the potential of GR-bound FAD, showing that there is essentially zero resistance to electron transfer (i.e., zero overpotential) from GR-bound FAD through the gold nanoparticle to the electrode.
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