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revised on 26.10.2019 and posted on 29.10.2019by Tyler Doyon, Jonathan Perkins, Summer A. Baker Dockrey, Evan O. Romero, Kevin Skinner, Paul M. Zimmerman, Alison Narayan
Generation of reactive intermediates and interception of these fleeting species in a cascade is a common strategy employed by Nature. However, formation of these species under mild conditions using traditional synthetic techniques can present a challenge. Here, we demonstrate the utility of biocatalysis in generating ortho-quinone methide intermediates under aqueous conditions and at reduced temperatures. Specifically, we applied an α-ketoglutarate-dependent non-heme iron enzyme, CitB, in the selective modification of benzylic C–H bonds of ortho-cresol substrates to afford a benzylic alcohol product which, under the reaction conditions, is in equilibrium with the corresponding ortho-quinone methide. Interception of the ortho-quinone methide by a nucleophile or a dienophile allows for one-pot conversion of benzylic C–H bonds into C–C, C–N, C–O, and C–S bonds in a chemoenzymatic cascade.