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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. May 1988; 85(10): 3382–3386.
PMCID: PMC280213

Isolation and characterization of natural allene oxides: unstable intermediates in the metabolism of lipid hydroperoxides.


Allene oxides are unstable epoxides that have been implicated as intermediates in the biotransformation of hydroperoxyicosatetraenoic acids and related hydroperoxides to ketols and cyclopentenones. Direct proof of the structure of the putative allene oxide intermediates has been hampered by their extreme instability under the conditions of their biosynthesis (t1/2 approximately 15-30 sec at 0 degree C and pH 7.4). We now report the isolation and structural elucidation of allene oxides prepared from the (13S)-hydroperoxides of linoleic and linolenic acids. The compounds were biosynthesized by using a very active enzyme preparation from flaxseed. After a 5-sec incubation at 0 degrees C, the allene oxide metabolites were extracted and purified as the methyl ester derivatives at -15 degrees C. The structures were established by UV, CD, NMR, and oxygen-18 labeling experiments. 12,13(S)-Oxido-9Z,11-octadecadienoic acid is derived from linoleic acid, and 12,13(S)-oxido-9Z,11,15Z-octadecatrienoic acid is from linolenic acid. Analysis of the breakdown products formed on exposure to water led to identification of hydrolysis and cyclization products previously characterized as enzymic derivatives of the (13S)-hydroperoxides in flaxseed. Our results give direct proof of the structure of the allene oxide intermediates and should facilitate further investigation of the metabolism of this class of epoxide to prostaglandins, clavulones, and other stable end products.

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  • Veldink GA, Vliegenthart JFG, Boldingh J. Oxygen transfer in the enzymatic conversion of 18O-labelled linoleic acid hydroperoxide into the 12-keto-13-hydroxyoctadec-cis-9-enoic acid. FEBS Lett. 1970 Apr 2;7(2):188–190. [PubMed]
  • Vick BA, Feng P, Zimmerman DC. Formation of 12-[18-O]oxo-cis-10, cis-15-phytodienoic acid from 13[18-O]hydroperoxylinolenic acid by hydroperoxide cyclase. Lipids. 1980 Jun;15(6):468–471. [PubMed]
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