The final step in the biosynthesis of the antibiotic chloramphenicol is the oxidation of an aryl-amine substrate to an aryl-nitro product catalyzed by the N-oxygenase CmlI in three two-electron steps. The CmlI active site contains a diiron cluster ligated by three histidine and four glutamate residues and activates dioxygen to perform its role in the biosynthetic pathway. It was previously shown that the active oxidant used by CmlI to facilitate this chemistry is a peroxo-diferric intermediate (CmlIP). Spectroscopic characterization demonstrated that the peroxo binding geometry of CmlIP is not consistent with the μ-1,2 mode commonly observed in nonheme diiron systems. Its geometry was tentatively assigned as μ-ν2:ν1 based on comparison with resonance Raman (rR) features of mixed-metal model complexes in the absence of appropriate diiron models. Here, X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and rR studies have been used to establish a refined structure for the diferric cluster of CmlIP. The rR experiments carried out with isotopically labeled water identified the symmetric and asymmetric vibrations of an Fe-O-Fe unit in the active site at 485 and 780 cm-1, respectively, which was confirmed by the 1.83 Å Fe-O bond observed by XAS. In addition, a unique Fe···O scatterer at 2.82 Å observed from XAS analysis is assigned as arising from the distal O atom of a μ-1,1-peroxo ligand that is bound symmetrically between the irons. The (μ-oxo)(μ-1,1-peroxo)diferric core structure associated with CmlIP is unprecedented among diiron cluster-containing enzymes and corresponding biomimetic complexes. Importantly, it allows the peroxo-diferric intermediate to be ambiphilic, acting as an electrophilic oxidant in the initial N-hydroxylation of an arylamine and then becoming a nucleophilic oxidant in the final oxidation of an aryl-nitroso intermediate to the aryl-nitro product.
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© 2017 American Chemical Society.