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Eur J Biochem. 2004 Nov;271(22):4335-60.

Models and mechanisms of O-O bond activation by cytochrome P450. A critical assessment of the potential role of multiple active intermediates in oxidative catalysis.

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  • Walther-Straub-Institut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie der LMU, München, Germany. hlavica@lrz.uni-muenchen.de


Cytochrome P450 enzymes promote a number of oxidative biotransformations including the hydroxylation of unactivated hydrocarbons. Whereas the long-standing consensus view of the P450 mechanism implicates a high-valent iron-oxene species as the predominant oxidant in the radicalar hydrogen abstraction/oxygen rebound pathway, more recent studies on isotope partitioning, product rearrangements with 'radical clocks', and the impact of threonine mutagenesis in P450s on hydroxylation rates support the notion of the nucleophilic and/or electrophilic (hydro)peroxo-iron intermediate(s) to be operative in P450 catalysis in addition to the electrophilic oxenoid-iron entity; this may contribute to the remarkable versatility of P450s in substrate modification. Precedent to this mechanistic concept is given by studies with natural and synthetic P450 biomimics. While the concept of an alternative electrophilic oxidant necessitates C-H hydroxylation to be brought about by a cationic insertion process, recent calculations employing density functional theory favour a 'two-state reactivity' scenario, implicating the usual ferryl-dependent oxygen rebound pathway to proceed via two spin states (doublet and quartet); state crossing is thought to be associated with either an insertion or a radicalar mechanism. Hence, challenge to future strategies should be to fold the disparate and sometimes contradictory data into a harmonized overall picture.

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