Rieske dearomatizing dioxygenases utilize a Rieske iron-sulfur cluster and a mononuclear Fe(II) located 15 Å across a subunit boundary to catalyze O2-dependent formation of cis-dihydrodiol products from aromatic substrates. During catalysis, O2 binds to the Fe(II) while the substrate binds nearby. Single-turnover reactions have shown that one electron from each metal center is required for catalysis. This finding suggested that the reactive intermediate is Fe(III)-(H)peroxo or HO-Fe(V)=O formed by O-O bond scission. Surprisingly, several kinetic phases were observed during the single-turnover Rieske cluster oxidation. Here, the Rieske cluster oxidation and product formation steps of a single turnover of benzoate 1,2-dioxygenase are investigated using benzoate and three fluorinated analogues. It is shown that the rate constant for product formation correlates with the reciprocal relaxation time of only the fastest kinetic phase (RRT-1) for each substrate, suggesting that the slower phases are not mechanistically relevant. RRT-1 is strongly dependent on substrate type, suggesting a role for substrate in electron transfer from the Rieske cluster to the mononuclear iron site. This insight, together with the substrate and O2 concentration dependencies of RRT-1, indicates that a reactive species is formed after substrate and O2 binding but before electron transfer from the Rieske cluster. Computational studies show that RRT-1 is correlated with the electron density at the substrate carbon closest to the Fe(II), consistent with initial electrophilic attack by an Fe(III)-superoxo intermediate. The resulting Fe(III)-peroxo-aryl radical species would then readily accept an electron from the Rieske cluster to complete the cis-dihydroxylation reaction.
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