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Cellular dinitrosyl iron complexes (DNICs) have long been considered NO carriers. Although other physiological roles of DNICs have been postulated, their chemical functionality outside of NO transfer has not been demonstrated thus far. Here we report the unprecedented dioxygen reactivity of a N-bound {Fe(NO)2}10 DNIC, [Fe(TMEDA)(NO)2] (1). In the presence of O2, 1 becomes a nitrating agent that converts 2,4,-di-tert-butylphenol to 2,4-di-tert-butyl-6-nitrophenol via formation of a putative iron-peroxynitrite [Fe(TMEDA)(NO)(ONOO)] (2) that is stable below −80 °C. Iron K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy on 2 supports a five-coordinated metal center with a bound peroxynitrite in a cyclic bidentate fashion. The peroxynitrite ligand of 2 readily decays at increased temperature or under illumination. These results suggest that DNICs could have multiple physiological or deleterious roles, including that of cellular nitrating agents.


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