Reaction of dirhodium(II) tetraacetate with S-methyl-L-cysteine

The reaction of antitumor active dirhodium(II) tetraacetate, [Rh2(AcO)4], with S-methyl-L-cysteine (HSMC) was studied at the pH of mixing (=4.8) in aqueous media at various temperatures under aerobic conditions. The results from UV–vis spectroscopy and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI–MS) showed that HSMC initially coordinates via its sulfur atom to the axial positions of the paddlewheel framework of the dirhodium(II) complex, and was confirmed by the crystal structure of [Rh2(AcO)4(HSMC)2]. After some time (48 h at 25 °C), or at elevated temperature (40 °C), Rh-SMC chelate formation causes breakdown of the paddlewheel structure, generating the mononuclear Rh(III) complexes [Rh(SMC)2]+, [Rh(AcO)(SMC)2] and [Rh(SMC)3], as indicated by ESI–MS. These aerobic reaction products of [Rh2(AcO)4] with HSMC have been compared with those of the two proteinogenic sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. Comparison shows that the (S,N)-chelate ring size influences the stability of the [Rh2(AcO)4] paddlewheel cage structure and its RhII–RhII bond, when an amino acid with a thioether group coordinates to dirhodium(II) tetraacetate.