Volume 94 Issue 37 | p. 8 | Concentrates
Issue Date: September 19, 2016

Relativistic effects govern methyl transfer to mercury

Computational study is the first to show that relativity dictates enzymatic reaction mechanism
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: biochemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Computational chemistry, Theoretical chemistry, Physical chemistry, mercury, methylation, corrinoid, neurotoxin, relativistic effects

Aquatic microbes convert inorganic mercury to methylmercury enzymatically by transferring a methyl group from a porphyrin-like cofactor called a corrinoid. A computational study now shows that such transfer occurs in a concerted fashion via a methyl radical, a mechanism influenced by relativistic effects in the mercury ion (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201606001). Relativistic effects arise in heavy elements from fast electron . . .

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