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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2016 May 4;55(19):5780-4. doi: 10.1002/anie.201601447. Epub 2016 Mar 30.

Discovery of a Promiscuous Non-Heme Iron Halogenase in Ambiguine Alkaloid Biogenesis: Implication for an Evolvable Enzyme Family for Late-Stage Halogenation of Aliphatic Carbons in Small Molecules.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, 219 Parkman Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260, USA.
Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, 219 Parkman Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260, USA.


The elucidation of enigmatic enzymatic chlorination timing in ambiguine indole alkaloid biogenesis led to the discovery and characterization of AmbO5 protein as a promiscuous non-heme iron aliphatic halogenase. AmbO5 was shown capable of selectively modifying seven structurally distinct ambiguine, fischerindole and hapalindole alkaloids with chlorine via late-stage aliphatic C-H group functionalization. Cross-comparison of AmbO5 with a previously characterized aliphatic halogenase homolog WelO5 that has a restricted substrate scope led to the identification of a C-terminal sequence motif important for substrate tolerance and specificity. Mutagenesis of 18 residues of WelO5 within the identified sequence motif led to a functional mutant with an expanded substrate scope identical to AmbO5, but an altered substrate specificity from the wild-type enzymes. These observations collectively provide evidence on the evolvable nature of AmbO5/WelO5 enzyme duo in the context of hapalindole-type alkaloid biogenesis and implicate their promise for the future development of designer biocatalysis for the selective late-stage modification of unactivated aliphatic carbon centers in small molecules with halogens.


C−H activation; alkaloid biogenesis; evolution; halogenase; non-heme iron enzyme

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