Fluoro amino acids: a rarity in nature, yet a prospect for protein engineering.
A sensitive method for the configurational analysis of (R)- and (S)-[2H1]-fluoroacetate has been developed using 2H[1H]-NMR in a chiral liquid crystalline solvent. This has enabled biosynthetic experiments to be conducted which reveal stereochemical details on biological fluorination occurring during the biosynthesis of fluoroacetate and 4-fluorothreonine in the bacterium Streptomyces cattleya. In particular, feeding experiments to S. cattleya with isotopically labeled (1R, 2R)- and (1S, 2R)-[1-2H1]-glycerol 3d and 3e and [2,3-2H(4)]-succinate 4a gave rise to samples of enantiomerically enriched [2-2H1]-fluoroacetates 1a. The predominant enantiomer resulting from each experiment suggests that the stereochemical course of biological fluorination takes place with an overall retention of configuration between a glycolytic intermediate and fluoroacetate 1. Consequently, this outcome suggests that the stereochemical course of the recently identified fluorinase enzyme which mediates a reaction between fluoride ion and S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM), occurs with an inversion of configuration.