Steric Perturbation of the Grob-like Final Step of Ethylene-Forming Enzyme Enables 3-Hydroxypropionate and Propylene Production

Evan J. Burke, Rachelle A. Copeland, Yash Dixit, Carsten Krebs, J. Martin Bollinger

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Ethylene-forming enzyme (EFE) is an iron(II)-dependent dioxygenase that fragments 2-oxoglutarate (2OG) to ethylene (from C3 and C4) and 3 equivs of carbon dioxide (from C1, C2, and C5). This major ethylene-forming pathway requires l-arginine as the effector and competes with a minor pathway that merely decarboxylates 2OG to succinate as it oxidatively fragments l-arginine. We previously proposed that ethylene forms in a polar-concerted (Grob-like) fragmentation of a (2-carboxyethyl)carbonatoiron(II) intermediate, formed by the coupling of a C3-C5-derived propion-3-yl radical to a C1-derived carbonate coordinated to the Fe(III) cofactor. Replacement of one or both C4 hydrogens of 2OG by fluorine, methyl, or hydroxyl favored the elimination products 2-(F1-2/Me/OH)-3-hydroxypropionate and CO2 over the expected olefin or carbonyl products, implying strict stereoelectronic requirements in the final step, as is known for Grob fragmentations. Here, we substituted active-site residues expected to interact sterically with the proposed Grob intermediate, aiming to disrupt or enable the antiperiplanar disposition of the carboxylate electrofuge and carbonate nucleofuge required for concerted fragmentation. The bulk-increasing A198L substitution barely affects the first partition between the major and minor pathways but then, as intended, markedly diminishes ethylene production in favor of 3-hydroxypropionate. Conversely, the bulk-diminishing L206V substitution enables propylene formation from (4R)-methyl-2OG, presumably by allowing the otherwise sterically disfavored antiperiplanar conformation of the Grob intermediate bearing the extra methyl group. The results provide additional evidence for a polar-concerted ethylene-yielding step and thus for the proposed radical-polar crossover via substrate-radical coupling to the Fe(III)-coordinated carbonate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1977-1983
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 24 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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