Synthesis of Substituted Catechols using Nitroarene Dioxygenases
AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB TYNDALL AFB FL
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The nitroarene dioxygenases are in the class of Rieske iron-containing oxygenases that incorporate atmospheric oxygen into substrates via electrophilic attack on the substrate. In their native role, the nitroarene dioxygenases start degradative pathways by hydroxylating nitro-substituted, and adjacent unsubstituted carbons of nitroaromatic compounds. The reaction yields the corresponding nitro-ciscyclohexadienediol, which is unstable and spontaneously re-aromatizes to form a catechol and nitrite. In bacterial metabolism, the specificity of the hydroxylation determines subsequent steps in degradation pathways. Experiments were done to find whether the specificity could be exploited to direct the hydroxylation of multiply substituted aromatic substrates and thereby produce novel catechols. Recombinant strains carrying genes for nitroarene dioxygenases were used for transformation of various substituted nitroaromatic compounds. The reactions were analyzed using HPLC to track substrate consumption and product formation, then GC MS and NMR to identify the reaction products. A number of substituted catechols were obtained using the recombinant biocatalysts. The nitro-substituted carbon was the primary site for dioxygenase hydroxylation. When substrates included nitro and halogen substituents, the halogen-substituted positions were also targeted, but less frequently than the nitro-substituted site. The production of catechols was limited in batch fermentations, likely due to toxicity of the quinones that result from air oxidation of catechols. The nitroarene dioxygenases will serve as catalysts for direct synthesis of highly substituted catechols, however, the reaction conditions must be engineered to overcome product toxicity and allow sustained accumulation of catecholic products.
- Organic Chemistry