Naturalproductman’s Blog

Hey, is that a natural product?!

FtmOx1 forms the endoperoxide in verruculogen

Posted by naturalproductman on November 24, 2015

Here’s a great Nature paper from a three lab collaboration (Lixin Zhang lab at Carnegie Mellon University, Pinghua Liu lab at Boston University, and Yan Jessie Zhang lab at UT Austin) that characterized the enzyme that forms the endoperoxide-containing natural product, verruculogen. The enzyme is an alpha-ketoglutarate dependent iron containing enzyme.


What is interesting about this enzyme is that it forms a “Compound I” species (iron oxo complex), which in turn forms a tyrosine radical within the enzyme, and this tyrosine radical is what abstracts the C-H hydrogen in the starting material, fumitremorgin B. The resulting allylic radical comes together with a molecule of oxygen that in turn cyclizes to form an endoperoxide-containing radical intermediate. This radical intermediate abstracts the tyrosine hydrogen atom to reform a tyrosine radical and verruculogen.

The process of the iron-oxo intermediate abstracting a hydrogen atom from tyrosine reminds me of the way cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX1 and COX2 enzymes) work to form the endoperoxide, prostaglandin H2, from arachidonic acid. Furthermore, if you recall Michael Green’s work published in Science last year, there was a cytochrome P450 enzyme that also removes a hydrogen atom from a nearby tyrosine residue to form a tyrosine radical.


Nature paper

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