Diverting non-haem iron catalysed aliphatic C-H hydroxylations towards desaturations

Marinus A. Bigi, Sean A. Reed, M. Christina White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carboxylate-ligated, non-haem iron enzymes demonstrate the capacity for catalysing such remarkable processes as hydroxylations, chlorinations and desaturations of inert, aliphatic C-H bonds. A key to functional diversity is the enzymes' ability to divert fleeting radicals towards different types of functionalization using active site and/or substrate modifications. We report that a non-haem iron hydroxylase catalyst [Fe(PDP)] can also be diverted to catalytic, mixed hydroxylase/desaturase activity with aliphatic C-H bonds. Using a taxane-based radical trap that rearranges under Fe(PDP) oxidation to furnish a nortaxane skeleton, we provide the first direct evidence for a substrate radical using this class of stereoretentive hydroxylation catalysts. Hydroxylation and desaturation proceed by means of a short-lived radical that diverges in a substrate-dependent manner in the presence of carboxylic acids. The novel biomimetic reactivity displayed by this small molecule catalyst is harnessed to diversify natural product derivatives as well as interrogate their biosynthetic pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-222
Number of pages7
JournalNature Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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