Use of a fluorinated probe to quantitatively monitor amino acid binding preferences of ruthenium(ii) arene complexes†
In order to address outstanding questions about ruthenium complexes in complex biological solutions, 19F NMR spectroscopy was used to follow the binding preferences between fluorinated RuII(η6-arene)(bipyridine) complexes and protected amino acids and glutathione. Reporting what ruthenium compounds bind to in complex environments has so far been restricted to relatively qualitative methods, such as mass spectrometry and X-ray spectroscopic methods; however, quantitative information on the species present in the solution phase cannot be inferred from these techniques. Furthermore, using 1H NMR, in water, to distinguish and monitor a number of different complex RuII(η6-arene) adducts forming is challenging. Incorporating an NMR active heteroatom into ruthenium organometallic complexes provides a quantitative, diagnostic ‘fingerprint’ to track solution-phase behaviour and allow for unambiguous assignment of any given adduct. The resulting 19F NMR spectra show for the first time the varied, dynamic behaviour of organoruthenium compounds when exposed to simple biomolecules in complex mixtures. The rates of formation of the different observed species are dramatically influenced by the electronic properties at the metal, even in a closely related series of complexes in which only the electron-donating properties of the arene ligand are altered. Preference for cysteine binding is absolute: the first quantitative solution-phase evidence of such behaviour.