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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 Jun 27;306(2):509-15.

Mechanism of xanthine oxidase catalyzed biotransformation of HMX under anaerobic conditions.

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Biotechnology Research Institute, National Research Council of Canada, 6100 Royalmount Avenue, Que., Montreal, Canada H4P 2R2.


Enzyme catalyzed biotransformation of the energetic chemical octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine (HMX) is not known. The present study describes a xanthine oxidase (XO) catalyzed biotransformation of HMX to provide insight into the biodegradation pathway of this energetic chemical. The rates of biotransformation under aerobic and anaerobic conditions were 1.6+/-0.2 and 10.5+/-0.9 nmolh(-1)mgprotein(-1), respectively, indicating that anaerobic conditions favored the reaction. The biotransformation rate was about 6-fold higher using NADH as an electron-donor compared to xanthine. During the course of reaction, the products obtained were nitrite (NO(2)(-)), methylenedinitramine (MDNA), 4-nitro-2,4-diazabutanal (NDAB), formaldehyde (HCHO), nitrous oxide (N(2)O), formic acid (HCOOH), and ammonium (NH(4)(+)). The product distribution gave carbon and nitrogen mass-balances of 91% and 88%, respectively. A comparative study with native-, deflavo-, and desulfo-XO and the site-specific inhibition studies showed that HMX biotransformation occurred at the FAD-site of XO. Nitrite stoichiometry revealed that an initial single N-denitration step was sufficient for the spontaneous decomposition of HMX.

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