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A chemoenzymatic strategy has been implemented to synthesize nitriles from benzyl amines under mild conditions. Aldoxime dehydratase (Oxd) plays a decisive role to convert aldoximes into corresponding nitriles. However, natural Oxds commonly exhibit extremely low catalytic capacity toward benzaldehyde oximes. Here, we engineered the OxdF1 from Pseudomonas putida F1 to enhance its catalytic efficiency toward benzaldehyde oximes by a semi-rational design strategy. The protein structure-based CAVER analysis indicates that M29, A147, F306, and L318 are located adjacent to the substrate tunnel entrance of OxdF1, which were responsible for the transportation of substrate into the active site. After two rounds of mutagenesis, the maximum activities of the mutants L318F and L318F/F306Y were 2.6 and 2.8 U/mg respectively, which were significantly higher than the wild OxdF1 of 0.7 U/mg. Meanwhile, the lipase type B from Candida antarctica was functionally expressed in Escherichia coli cells to selectively oxidize benzyl amines to aldoximes using urea-hydrogen peroxide adduct (UHP) as an oxidant in ethyl acetate. To merge the oxidation and dehydration reactions, a reductive extraction solution was added to remove the residue UHP, which is critical to eliminate its inhibition on the Oxd activity. Consequently, nine benzyl amines were efficiently converted into corresponding nitriles by the chemoenzymatic sequence. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Qinjie Xiao, Yumin Feng, Li Chen, Mu Li, Pengfei Zhang, Qiuyan Wang, Anming Wang, Xiaolin Pei. Engineered aldoxime dehydratase to enable the chemoenzymatic conversion of benzyl amines to aromatic nitriles. Bioorganic chemistry. 2023 May;134:106468

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PMID: 36933338

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