On the Michael addition of water to C = C bonds

More Info


?-Hydroxy carbonyl compounds are an important class of compounds often found as a common structural motif in natural products. Although the molecules themselves look rather simple, their synthesis can be challenging. Water addition to conjugated C = C bonds opens up a straightforward route for the preparation of ?-hydroxy carbonyl compounds. Moreover, water addition to C = C bonds benefits a lot from its simplicity and excellent atom economy. However, the enantioselective addition of water to ?,?-unsaturated carbonyl (Michael) acceptors still represents a chemically very challenging reaction, due to the poor nucleophilicity of water and its small size, which make regio- and stereoinduction difficult. Equally, the often unfavorable equilibrium of water-addition reactions remains to be solved. In contrast, enzymes such as fumarase, malease, citraconase, aconitase, and enoyl-CoA hydratase have been successfully used on industrial scale, and their excellent (enantio-) selectivities are highly valued. Unfortunately, most hydratases are part of the primary metabolism where perfect substrate specificity is required. This very high substrate selectivity severely limits their practical applicability in organic synthesis. Thus, a straightforward approach with broad applicability still had not been described. The aim of the research presented in this thesis was to take up this challenge and dedicated to the search for a Michael hydratase with a more relaxed substrate specificity for the preparation of important ?-hydroxy carbonyl compounds. The stereospecificity of enzyme-catalysed reactions has been a fruitful source of information about the mechanisms of enzyme catalysis and vice versa; the application of stereospecifically labelled substrates allows for studying the course of the reaction. It offers a very promising opportunity to comprehensively understand the precise mechanistic and kinetic details of even the most complex enzymatic reactions. Thus Chapter 1 provides unifying ideas for stereochemistry of the enzymatic water addition to C = C bonds. This enhances our understanding of the chemistry of water addition to C = C bonds, and further allows us to find more hydratases from natural sources or obtained via protein engineering. In Chapter 2, a direct, enantioselective Michael addition of water in water to prepare important ?-hydroxy carbonyl compounds using whole cells of Rhodococcus strains is described. Good yields and excellent enantioselectivities were achieved with this method. This opens up an entirely new approach for the preparation of important ?-hydroxy carbonyl compounds. Deuterium labelling studies demonstrate that a Michael hydratase catalyzes the water addition exclusively with anti-stereochemistry, which belongs to the family members of hydratases: oleate hydratase, fumarase, malease, aconitase and type II dehydroquinase with a preference for the anti-addition; whereas, type I dehydroquinase, enoyl-CoA hydratase and artificial hydratase exclusive prefer for the syn-addition, as discussed in Chapter 1. The biocatalytic reaction system was carefully optimized for gram-scale synthesis, resulting in good conversions and excellent enantioselectivities. Under the optimized conditions, whole cells could be reused for 4 cycles without significant loss of activity while maintaining up to 90% ee. Since whole cells from Rhodococcus strains were used to catalyse the Michael addition of water in water to a series of ?,?-unsaturated carbonyl compounds, and when the work presented in Chapter 2 started, no genomic information of Rhodococcus strains was publically available, we sequenced and annotated the strain R. rhodochrous ATCC 17895. This is described in Chapter 3 together with features of the R. rhodochrous ATCC 17895. It is a Gram-positive aerobic bacterium with a rod-like morphology. The 6,869,887 bp long genome contains 6,609 protein-coding genes and 53 RNA genes. Our study suggests the Michael hydratase has not been described before. In the work presented in Chapter 2, we found that most ?-hydroxy ketones are not commercially available or commercially expensive as we mentioned in the first paragraph, which made the stereoselectivity determination of Michael addition products difficult. Indeed, many seemingly simple molecules have to be prepared via multi-step syntheses, in particular so if they are optically active. Therefore a straightforward approach to enantiomerically enriched (R)- and (S)-3-hydroxycyclopentanone was established by kinetic resolution in Chapter 4. This methodology allows us to prepare more ?-hydroxy carbonyl compounds structurally closely related to 3-hydroxycyclopentanone. The isolated chiral alcohols were used to determine the stereochemistry of the Michael addition of water in Chapter 2, saving us a lot of laboratory work. Moreover, unexpected stereoselective reduction of conjugated C = C bonds was discovered during studies on the enantioselective Michael addition of water. As mentioned in Chapter 2, the whole cells of R. rhodochrous ATCC 17895 reduced ?,?-unsaturated cyclic ketones into the corresponding ketones as initially undesired side reaction for the addition of water to C = C bonds. Therefore, ene-reductase activity was also investigated in Chapter 5. A series of substrates, including activated ketones, aldehydes, amines and nitro-compounds were screened for ene-reductase activity using whole cells of R. rhodochrous ATCC 17895. This showed that R. rhodochrous is a very promising catalyst for the reduction of C = C bonds and harbours ene-reductases. Indeed, looking for the annotated ene reductase from the genome of R. rhodochrous ATCC 17895 as described in Chapter 3, three candidates were observed and were classified as ene-reductases by amino acid sequence alignment with the known Old Yellow Enzymes (OYEs). Thus, the putative ene-reductase genes from R. rhodochrous ATCC 17895 were heterologously overexpressed in Escherichia coli and one of the encoded proteins was purified and characterized for their biocatalytic and biochemical properties. Based on these accomplishments it can be concluded that we have discovered a new Michael hydratase and three new ene reductases from Rhodococcus strains. Genome sequence and annotation of strain R. rhodochrous ATCC 17895 has been done, offering an excellent opportunity for the discovering novel enzymes, for instance, the Michael hydratase and S-selective ene reductase. The important chiral ?-hydroxy carbonyl compounds can be prepared by kinetic resolution of racemic alcohols using lipases or the direct enantioselective Michael addition of water using whole cells of Rhodococcus strains. The isolated products from kinetic resolution were readily used for the stereochemistry determination of Michael addition of water in water, completes the story of water addition to C = C bonds.