Re-assessing viologens for modern bio-electrocatalysis

Desmond Koomson, Jake Nicholson, Alex Brogan*, Leigh Aldous

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Viologens, 1,1′-disubstituted-4,4′-bipyridinium salts, are organic redox species that can be used in place of NADPH as mediators for redox enzymes. In this study, using the reduction of oxidized glutathione by glutathione reductase as a model system, a rationally designed library of viologens covering a range of polarities and functional groups were explored as electron transfer mediators for bio-electrocatalysis. Through a series of electrochemical investigations, the reduction potential was found to be the primary determining factor for electron transfer between the viologen and enzyme. Through enhancing the solubility of viologen such that the fully reduced state remained soluble, we demonstrate a much-widened window of useable viologen potentials. In doing so, we describe for the first time a highly efficient electron transfer to a flavoenzyme promoting the catalytic reaction in the absence of co-factors. As such, our study provides a platform for broadening the scope for using viologens as mediating agents for electrochemically-driven enzymatic processes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Science
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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