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Structural Basis for the Enantioselectivity of an Epoxide Ring Opening Reaction Catalyzed by Halo Alcohol Dehalogenase HheC

By René M. de Jong, Jan J.W. Tiesinga, Alessandra Villa, Lixia Tang, Dick B. Janssen and Bauke W. Dijkstra


Halo alcohol dehalogenase HheC catalyzes the highly enantioselective dehalogenation of vicinal halo alcohols to epoxides, as well as the reverse reaction, the enantioselective and β-regioselective nucleophilic ring opening of epoxides by pseudo-halides such as azide and cyanide. To investigate this latter reaction, we determined X-ray structures of complexes of HheC with the favored and unfavored enantiomers of para-nitrostyrene oxide. The aromatic parts of the two enantiomers bind in a very similar way, but the epoxide ring of the unfavored (S)-enantiomer binds in a nonproductive inverted manner, with the epoxide oxygen and Cβ atom positions interchanged with respect to those of the favored (R)-enantiomer. The calculated difference in relative Gibbs binding energy is in agreement with the observed loss of a single hydrogen bond in the S bound state with respect to the R bound state. Our results indicate that it is the nonproductive binding of the unfavored (S)-enantiomer, rather than the difference in affinity for the two enantiomers, that allows HheC to catalyze the azide-mediated ring opening of para-nitrostyrene oxide with high enantioselectivity. This work represents a rare opportunity to explain the enantioselectivity of an enzymatic reaction by comparison of crystallographic data on the binding of both the favored and unfavored enantiomers.

Year: 2005
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