Protein engineering of toluene monooxygenases for synthesis of chiral sulfoxides

Roi Feingersch, Janna Shainsky, Thomas K. Wood, Ayelet Fishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Enantiopure sulfoxides are valuable asymmetric starting materials and are important chiral auxiliaries in organic synthesis. Toluene monooxygenases (TMOs) have been shown previously to catalyze regioselective hydroxylation of substituted benzenes and phenols. Here we show that TMOs are also capable of performing enantioselective oxidation reactions of aromatic sulfides. Mutagenesis of position V106 in the α-hydroxylase subunit of toluene ortho-monooxygenase (TOM) of Burkholderia cepacia G4 and the analogous position I100 in toluene 4-monooxygenase (T4MO) of Pseudomonas mendocina KR1 improved both rate and enantioselectivity. Variant TomA3 V106M of TOM oxidized methyl phenyl sulfide to the corresponding sulfoxide at a rate of 3.0 nmol/min/mg protein compared with 1.6 for the wild-type enzyme, and the enantiomeric excess (pro-S) increased from 51% for the wild type to 88% for this mutant. Similarly, T4MO variant TmoA I100G increased the wild-type oxidation rate by 1.7-fold, and the enantiomeric excess rose from 86% to 98% (pro-S). Both wild-type enzymes showed lower activity with methyl para-tolyl sulfide as a substrate, but the improvement in the activity and enantioselectivity of the mutants was more dramatic. For example, T4MO variant TmoA I100G oxidized methyl para-tolyl sulfide 11 times faster than the wild type did and changed the selectivity from 41% pro-R to 77% pro-S. A correlation between regioselectivity and enantioselectivity was shown for TMOs studied in this work. Using in silico homology modeling, it is shown that residue I100 in T4MO aids in steering the substrate into the active site at the end of the long entrance channel. It is further hypothesized that the main function of V106 in TOM is the proper positioning or docking of the substrate with respect to the diiron atoms. The results from this work suggest that when the substrate is not aligned correctly in the active site, the oxidation rate is decreased and enantioselectivity is impaired, resulting in products with both chiral configurations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1555-1566
Number of pages12
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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