Mechanisms of Flavin-Dependent Monooxygenases Involved in Natural Product Chemistry

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Virginia Tech


Natural products are secondary metabolites produced by plants and microorganisms that often possess medicinal properties and are implicated in organismal defense. Drawbacks to utilizing natural products in the pharmaceutical industry are difficulties with isolation from biological sources and low yields that can lack stereospecificity from synthetic sources. It is paramount to solve these issues and to develop novel natural products to combat the growing antimicrobial resistance crisis, which was responsible for ~5 million deaths in 2019 alone. One approach is utilizing enzymes to synthesize existing natural products to improve the yields and stereospecificity issue. This dissertation is focused on the biochemical characterization of three enzymes-ZvFMO, OxaD, and CreE-that are implicated in the detoxification of natural products used for organismal defense or participate in the biosynthesis of novel natural products. Each of these enzymes belong to the flavin-dependent monooxygenase (FMO) family, which catalyze the oxygenation of a substrate, generating an oxidized product. ZvFMO, from the insect food crop pest, Zonocerus variegatus, was determined to catalyze a highly uncoupled oxygenation reaction of the nitrogen or sulfur atom of various substrates. OxaD, from Penicillium oxalicum F30, catalyzes novel sequential oxidation reactions of the indole nitrogen of roquefortine C. CreE, from Streptomyces cremeus, also catalyzes sequential nitrogen oxidation reactions to convert L-aspartate to nitrosuccinate en route to biosynthesis of cremeomycin. For each enzyme, the steady-state kinetics have been determined using an oxygen consumption assay and the rapid-reaction kinetics were measured using anaerobic time-resolved spectroscopy. All three enzymes feature a fast flavin reduction step and a slow flavin dehydration step. The oxygenation chemistry of each enzyme was found to proceed through a highly reactive oxygenating species, the C4a-hydroperoxyflavin. Site-directed mutagenesis efforts led to the identification of key active site residues involved in flavin motion and substrate binding, revealing important information about the active site architecture for enzyme engineering applications and drug discovery efforts.



Flavin, flavin-dependent monooxygenase, natural products, steady-state kinetics, rapid-reaction kinetics, enzyme mechanism, alkaloid, roquefortine C, L-aspartate, and C4a-hydroperoxyflavin