IR absorption spectroscopy is used to examine the binding of the divalent cations Mg(II), Ca(II), Zn(II) and Cu(II) to melanin granules isolated from the ink sacs of Sepia officinalis. The functional groups of the melanin granules interacting with the bound metal ions are deduced by examining the effect of metal concentration on transition frequencies associated with the COOH, NH and OH moieties of the pigment. The coordinating groups vary with metal ion and with concentration. For the experimental conditions used (initial solution pH of 4, ionic strength of 100 mM and a melanin concentration of 1 mg mL−1) Mg(II), Ca(II) and Zn(II) bind to carboxylate groups and Cu(II) binds predominantly to phenolic (catechol) groups However, at a concentration of 10 mM Cu(II) also shows evidence of binding to carboxylate and amine groups, reflecting a secondary binding site that becomes populated as the catechol sites are depleted.
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Vol. 82 • No. 5