Soluble methane monooxygenase (MMO) is shown to be capable of catalyzing desaturation reactions in addition to the usual hydroxylation and epoxidation reactions. Dehydrogenated products are generated from MMO-catalyzed oxidation of certain substrates including ethylbenzene and cyclohexadienes. In the reaction of ethylbenzene, desaturation of ethyl C-H occurred along with the conventional hydroxylations of ethyl and phenyl C-Hs. As a result, styrene is formed together with ethylphenols and phenylethanols. Similarly, when 1,3- and 1,4-cyclohexadienes were used as substrates, benzene was detected as a product in addition to the corresponding alcohols and epoxides. In all cases, reaction conditions were found to significantly affect the distribution among the different products. This new activity of MMO is postulated to be associated with the chemical properties of the substrates rather than fundamental changes in the nature of the oxygen and C-H activation chemistries. The formation of the desaturated products is rationalized by formation of a substrate cationic intermediate, possibly via a radical precursor. The cationic species is then proposed to partition between recombination (alcohol formation) and elimination (alkene production) pathways. This novel function of MMO indicates close mechanistic kinship between the hydroxylation and desaturation reactions catalyzed by the nonheme diiron clusters.
- Diiron cluster
- Methane monooxygenase