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Probing the Mechanism of Isonitrile Formation by a Non-Heme Iron(II)-Dependent Oxidase/Decarboxylase

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-03-07, 21:29 authored by Antonio Del Rio Flores, David W. Kastner, Yongle Du, Maanasa Narayanamoorthy, Yuanbo Shen, Wenlong Cai, Vyshnavi Vennelakanti, Nicholas A. Zill, Luisa B. Dell, Rui Zhai, Heather J. Kulik, Wenjun Zhang
The isonitrile moiety is an electron-rich functionality that decorates various bioactive natural products isolated from diverse kingdoms of life. Isonitrile biosynthesis was restricted for over a decade to isonitrile synthases, a family of enzymes catalyzing a condensation reaction between l-Trp/l-Tyr and ribulose-5-phosphate. The discovery of ScoE, a non-heme iron­(II) and α-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase, demonstrated an alternative pathway employed by nature for isonitrile installation. Biochemical, crystallographic, and computational investigations of ScoE have previously been reported, yet the isonitrile formation mechanism remains obscure. In the present work, we employed in vitro biochemistry, chemical synthesis, spectroscopy techniques, and computational simulations that enabled us to propose a plausible molecular mechanism for isonitrile formation. Our findings demonstrate that the ScoE reaction initiates with C5 hydroxylation of (R)-3-((carboxymethyl)­amino)­butanoic acid to generate 1, which undergoes dehydration, presumably mediated by Tyr96 to synthesize 2 in a trans configuration. (R)-3-isocyanobutanoic acid is finally generated through radical-based decarboxylation of 2, instead of the common hydroxylation pathway employed by this enzyme superfamily.