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Biocatalytic Single-Step Alkene Cleavage from Aryl Alkenes An Enzymatic Equivalent to Reductive Ozonization.

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Biocatalytic Alkene Cleavage
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200601574
Biocatalytic Single-Step Alkene Cleavage from
Aryl Alkenes: An Enzymatic Equivalent to
Reductive Ozonization**
Harald Mang, Johannes Gross, Miguel Lara,
Christian Goessler, Hans E. Schoemaker,
Georg M. Guebitz, and Wolfgang Kroutil*
Driven by the need for mild and selective oxidation methods
as well as by increased public awareness of hazards derived
from chemical production, environmentally benign oxidation
methods have gained increasing importance.[1] Alkene cleavage[2] to give aldehydes or ketones is a very frequently used
method in synthetic organic chemistry[3] to 1) introduce
oxygen functionalities into molecules, 2) split selectively
large compounds, and 3) remove protecting groups.[3g]
Among the methods currently available for the chemical
oxidative cleavage of alkenes, reductive ozonolysis is considered as the “cleanest”.[4] In practice, however, it has several
drawbacks, since it depends on special equipment (ozonizer),
low temperature (generally 78 8C), and a stoichiometric
amount of an additional reducing reagent (e.g. dimethyl
sulfide, zinc, hydrogen, phosphines) for reductive workup.
Furthermore, special precaution is required, since serious
accidents arising from explosions have been reported.[5] Other
methods involving metal-based oxidants[6] require (at least)
stoichiometric amounts of salts or peroxides and are plagued
by limited chemo-, regio-, and stereoselectivity. Over-oxidation of the aldehyde to the corresponding acid as side reaction
is in most cases unavoidable. The only catalytic method
employing molecular oxygen needs a CoII [7] catalyst, is
restricted to isoeugenol-type substrates, and displays moderate chemoselectivity.
[*] Dr. H. Mang, J. Gross, M. Lara, C. Goessler, Prof. W. Kroutil
Department of Chemistry, Organic and Bioorganic Chemistry
Research Centre Applied Biocatalysis
University of Graz
Heinrichstrasse 28, 8010 Graz (Austria)
Fax: (+ 43) 316-380-9840
Prof. H. E. Schoemaker
DSM Research, Life Science Products
P.O. Box 18, 6160 MD Geleen (The Netherlands)
Prof. G. M. Guebitz
Institute of Environmental Biotechnology
Research Centre Applied Biocatalysis
University of Technology
Petersgasse 12, 8010 Graz (Austria)
As a consequence, novel or improved methods for alkene
cleavage are being sought.[6b–e,i, 8] Enzymatic alkene cleavage
has been observed 1) as a minor (undesired) side-reaction on
the analytical scale catalyzed by peroxidases,[9] 2) with a
combination of lipoxygenases and hydroperoxide lyases for
specific substrates,[10] and 3) on an analytical scale employing
molecular oxygen as oxidant using certain mono-[11] or
dioxygenases[12] displaying high substrate specificity.[13] To
our knowledge, a method for biocatalytic oxidative alkene
cleavage has not been developed to date, which can be
employed on preparative scale.
In a screening for microorganisms capable of oxidizing
alkenes in allylic position, we were not able to identify any hit.
Nevertheless, for one fungus, namely Trametes hirsuta
G FCC 047[14] we observed the disappearance of the starting
material (E)-1-phenyl-1-butene (1 a; Scheme 1) and the
Scheme 1. Biocatalytic alkene cleavage employing molecular oxygen.
For 1 b!2 b see Scheme 2.
formation of an unexpected product, which was identified
as benzaldehyde. To demonstrate that this is a biocatalyzed
reaction, the transformation was repeated with an enzyme
preparation inactivated by heat. In this case no reaction was
observed, which confirmed our assumption of a biocatalytic
reaction. Since biocatalytic conversions in synthetic applications are becoming increasingly important,[15] we aimed to
develop a novel biocatalytic procedure for reductive ozonization.
For the identification of the cleavage product(s), a cyclic
alkene, such as indene (1 b; Scheme 2), was envisaged as
substrate, since it was expected to give a single product in
which both biooxidation cleavage products are present. Thus,
transformation of 1 b yielded the corresponding dialdehyde
2 b as shown by GC–MS and comparison with independently
synthesized reference material. Indene (1 b) was also used to
elucidate the origin of the two oxygen atoms introduced. By
performing the experiments with 18O-labeled molecular
oxygen with a cell-free extract, we could show by GC–MS
analysis that both oxygen atoms in the two aldehyde frag-
[**] This study was financed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF Project
P18381). Initial experiments were performed within the Research
Centre Applied Biocatalysis supported by DSM, FFG, SFG, Province
of Styria and City of Graz.
Supporting information for this article is available on the WWW
under or from the author.
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2006, 45, 5201 –5203
Scheme 2. Biocatalytic alkene cleavage of indene (1 b) leading to the
corresponding dialdehyde.
2006 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
ments are labeled. As a blank experiment we performed the
experiment in 18O-labeled water using 16O2. In this experiment
none of the two oxygen atoms was labeled; thus both oxygen
atoms originate from molecular O2 (Scheme 1). Although
these experiments are already a strong indication that this is a
one-step reaction catalyzed by a dioxygenase,[12] and not a
stepwise mechanism as found in the cleavage of b-carotene,[11]
possible intermediates in a stepwise transformation of 1 a,
such as the diol 3 or the epoxide 4, were tested. However,
neither 3 nor 4 were transformed to the corresponding
aldehyde; thus, neither of these two compounds is an
intermediate. Therefore the transformation is a single-step
alkene-cleavage reaction catalyzed by an enzyme employing
molecular oxygen as the only oxidant (Scheme 2). In contrast
to non-enzymatic methods, the reaction can be performed in
an aqueous environment at ambient temperature without
additional reagents except molecular oxygen.
To achieve high conversion, oxygen saturation, or even
better elevated oxygen pressure, is required. To reach such
conditions on a one-milliliter scale in parallel for testing, we
exploited the catalase activity, which was also present in the
enzyme preparation. Thus, a hydrogen peroxide solution was
added to the reaction mixture in a GC glass vial (1.5 mL)
which was quickly closed with a rubber seal. The hydrogen
peroxide was disproportionated by the catalase to yield water
and molecular oxygen within seconds giving a theoretical
overpressure of approximately 2 bar. Employing this assay
with a cell-free extract of Trametes hirsuta G FCC 047 the
conversion of 1 a was increased from 10 % to 44 % (Table 1,
entry 1). An even better substrate was trans-anethole (1 c),
which was converted into anisaldehyde (2 c) at 83 % conversion with excellent chemoselectivity (94 %, Table 1,
Table 1: Results of the biocatalytic alkene cleavage of various alkenes.
Prod. [%][b]
Chemosel. [%][c]
(E)-1-phenyl-1-butene (1 a)
indene (1 b)
trans-anethole (1 c)
4-methoxystyrene (1 d)
styrene (1 e)
allylbenzene (1 f)
p-tBu styrene
a-methylstyrene (1 g)
< 0.1
> 99
> 99
> 99
[a] Conditions: cell-free enzyme preparation of Trametes hirsuta
G FCC 047, performed in GC vials under oxygen pressure, with 6 g L1
substrate concentration, 25 8C, pH 6.0. [b] GC yield, 24 h reaction time,
ratio of formed aldehyde/ketone to initial substrate concentration.
[c] Ratio of aldehyde/ketone formed to all compounds formed; n.a. not
entry 3). Most remarkably, no measurable over-oxidation to
the corresponding carboxylic acid was observed.
Monosubstituted alkenes, such as 4-methoxystyrene (1 d)
are also converted. Substituting the para-methoxy moiety of
1 d by hydrogen led only to a slight decrease in activity
(styrene (1 e), Table 1, entry 5). For allyl benzene (1 f) no
conversion was observed, probably because the C=C bond is
not conjugated to the aromatic system. It is of note that even a
sterically more demanding ortho-substituted styrene, such as
o-methyl styrene (Table 1, entry 7), was converted. With pamino styrene (Table 1, entry 9), the amino group was not
touched, and a highly chemoselective alkene cleavage led
exclusively to p-aminobenzaldehyde with > 99 % chemoselectivity. Even ketones are accessible, for instance, the
transformation of a-methyl styrene (1 g) also occurred with
absolute chemoselectivity (> 99 %) yielding acetophenone
(Table 1, entry 12).
To increase the solubility of the substrate in the aqueous
phase ethanol can be used as cosolvent up to 25 % v/v. The
optimum activity is at 15 % v/v. In other reactions the
substrate concentration was varied, and it can be increased
up to 2.7 mol L1 (400 g L1) for trans-anethole (1 c). The high
substrate concentration possible emphasizes the potential of
the method for preparative transformations.
For performing the alkene cleavage on a preparative scale,
a hydrogenation apparatus (Parr 3910) was adapted to work
under oxygen pressure. A constant pressure of 2 bar of
molecular oxygen was applied on the reaction mixture.
Employing 3 g of lyophilized cells, 1 c was cleaved with 81 %
conversion within 24 h.
In conclusion, the described novel biocatalytic alkenecleavage method is a simple, benign, and “green” alternative
to chemical methods. It does not require specialized equipment (ozonizer) or chemicals (reducing agents, oxidizing
salts) and does not produce any waste. It requires the most
innocuous oxidant, namely oxygen. The highest possible
achievable atom efficiency[16] for alkene cleavage can only be
reached by using molecular oxygen, which is achieved in the
biocatalytic method presented. We have demonstrated that
the biocatalytic alkene cleavage described extends the
repertoire of biocatalytic reactions available for organic
Experimental Section
Preparative-scale biocatalytic alkene cleavage under oxygen pressure: Lyophilized cells of Trametes hirsuta G FCC 047 (3 g) were
rehydrated with Bis–Tris buffer (125 mL, 50 mm, pH 6; Bis–Tris = 2,2bis(hydroxyethyl)iminotris(hydroxymethyl)methane) for 30 min on a
rotary shaker (25 8C, 130 rpm). The mixture was placed into the
reaction vessel (450 mL) of the “Hydrogenation Apparatus
Parr 3910” and trans-anethole (1 c; 0.6 mL, 0.59 g, 3.9 mmol) and
EtOH (1.7 mL) were added. The atmosphere was saturated with pure
O2, and then the oxygen pressure was adjusted to 2 bar. After 24 h of
agitation at 22 8C under constant oxygen pressure (2 bar), the reaction
mixture was extracted with EtOAc (4 D 50 mL) and centrifuged after
each extraction step (8000 rpm, 20 min) to achieve phase separation.
The cells were removed by filtration from the aqueous solution. The
aqueous solution was then extracted with EtOAc (50 mL). The
combined organic phase was dried with Na2SO4, filtered, and
concentrated. A conversion of 81 % p-anisaldehyde (2 c) was
2006 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2006, 45, 5201 –5203
determined by GC analysis. Column chromatography (50 g silica gel,
petroleum ether/ethyl acetate 20:1) gave 0.31 g of 2 c (57 % yield of
isolated product).
Received: April 21, 2006
Published online: July 20, 2006
Keywords: alkenes · biocatalysis · oxidation · oxygen · ozonolysis
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equivalence, step, cleavage, enzymatic, ozonization, biocatalytic, reductive, single, alkenes, aryl
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