Discovery of a novel styrene monooxygenase originating from the metagenome.


Oxygenases form an interesting class of biocatalysts, as they typically perform oxygenations with exquisite chemo-, regio-, and/or enantioselectivity. It has been observed that, once heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli, some oxygenases are able to form the blue pigment indigo. We have exploited this characteristic to screen a metagenomic library derived from loam soil and identified a novel oxygenase. This oxygenase shows 50% sequence identity with styrene monooxygenases from pseudomonads (StyA). Only a limited number of homologs can be found in the genome sequence database, indicating that this biocatalyst is a member of a relatively small family of bacterial monooxygenases. The newly identified monooxygenase catalyzes the epoxidation of styrene and styrene derivatives and forms the corresponding (S)-epoxides with excellent enantiomeric excess [e.g., (S)-styrene oxide is formed with >99% enantiomeric excess, ee] and therefore is named styrene monooxgenase subunit A (SmoA). SmoA shows high enantioselectivity towards aromatic sulfides [e.g., (R)-ethyl phenyl sulfoxide is formed with 92% ee]. This excellent enantioselectivity in combination with the moderate sequence identity forms a clear indication that SmoA from a metagenomic origin represents a new enzyme within the small family of styrene monooxygenases.

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@article{Hellemond2007DiscoveryOA, title={Discovery of a novel styrene monooxygenase originating from the metagenome.}, author={Erik W. van Hellemond and Dick B. Janssen and Marco W Fraaije}, journal={Applied and environmental microbiology}, year={2007}, volume={73 18}, pages={5832-9} }