Molecular Basis for Chemoselectivity Control in Oxidations of Internal Aryl-Alkenes Catalyzed by Laboratory Evolved P450s

25 January 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


P450 enzymes naturally perform selective hydroxylations and epoxidations of unfunctionalized hydrocarbon substrates, among other reactions. The adaptation of P450 enzymes to a particular oxidative reaction involving alkenes is of great interest for the design of new synthetically useful biocatalysts. However, the mechanism that these enzymes utilize to precisely modulate the chemoselectivity and distinguishing between competing alkene double bond oxidations and allylic hydroxylations is sometimes not clear, which hampers the rational design of specific biocatalysts. In a previous work, a P450 from Labrenzia aggregata (P450LA1) was engineered in the laboratory using directed evolution to catalyze the direct oxidation of trans-b- methylstyrene to phenylacetone. The final variant, KS, was able to overcome the intrinsic preference for alkene epoxidation to directly generate a ketone product via the formation of a highly reactive carbocation intermediate. Here, additional library screening along the evolutionary lineage permitted to serendipitously detect a mutation that overcomes epoxidation and carbonyl formation by exhibiting a large selectivity towards allylic oxidation. A multiscalar computational methodology was applied to reveal the molecular basis towards this hydroxylation preference. Enzyme modelling suggests that introduction of a bulky substitution dramatically changes the accessible conformations of the substrate in the active site, thus modifying the enzymatic selectivity towards terminal hydroxylation and avoiding the competing epoxidation pathway, which is sterically hindered.


P450 enzymes
Computational Modeling

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Supplementary material


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