The Use Haloperoxidases in Organic Synthesis:

Selected Reactions of Oxidation, Epoxydation and Sulfoxidation

V.M. Dembitsky and M. Srebnik

Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products, School of Pharmacy,

P.O. Box 12065, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91120, Israel


Haloperoxidases are ubiquitous metalloenzymes that catalyse a variety of enantioselective oxygen-transfer reactions with hydrogen peroxide or alkylperoxides. Haloperoxidases are enzymes which catalyze the reaction of oxidation, epoxidation and sulfoxidation by hydrogen peroxide. These enzymes usually contain the FeHeme moiety or vanadium as an essential constituent at their active site, however, a few haloperoxidases which lack a metal cofactor are known. This review will examine the reactivity of the different haloperoxidases, particularly the mechanism of oxidation by hydrogen peroxide, and the mechanism of oxidation and sulfoxidation, including the newly reported regioselectivity and enantioselectivity of the haloperoxidases. The structure of chloroperoxidase, the vanadium active site and the role of critical amino acid side chains for catalysis and functional biomimetic systems, with specific relevance to the mechanism of the haloperoxidase enzymes. Advances have recently been made in using them to prepare, under controlled conditions, chiral organic molecules that are valuable for the synthesis of a wide range of useful compounds. The application of biocatalytic methods in asymmetric organic synthesis is of great interest as an alternative to chemical procedures employing chiral auxiliaries. Asymmetric oxidation of prochiral sulfides to yield optically active sulfoxides has been performed by many different techniques yielding varying enantiomeric excess values. Oxygenated metabolites are compounds that are commonly found in nature and they are produced by many different organisms. The oxygen atom is incorporated into organic compounds by enzyme-catalyzed reactions with oxygen ions as the oxygen source. For over 40 years haloperoxidases were thought to be responsible for the incorporation of mainly halogen atoms into organic molecules. However, haloperoxidases lack substrate specificity and regioselectivity, and the connection of haloperoxidases with the in vivo formation of oxygenated as well as halometabolites has been demonstrated. Recently, molecular genetic investigations showed that, at least in bacteria, fungi, and other organisms a different class of halogenases is involved in halo- and oxygenated metabolite formation. These halogenases were found to require FADH2, which can be produced from FAD and NADH by unspecific flavin reductases. The FADH2-dependent halogenases and haloperoxidases show substrate specificity and regioselectivity, and their genes have been detected in many halometabolite-producing organisms, suggesting that this type of halogenating enzymes constitutes the major source for halo- and oxygenated metabolite formation in bacteria and also in other organisms. Distribution of haloperoxidases in nature also is demonstrated in this brief review.