Granulicella tundricola hydroxynitrile lyase (GtHNL) is a manganese dependent cupin that catalyzes the enantioselective synthesis of cyanohydrins. The analysis of its active site shows high similarity with the active site of cupin Tm1459 from Thermotoga maritima, an enzyme that catalyzes the oxidative cleavage of styrene derivatives. GtHNL (GtHNL-WT) was found to catalyze the oxidative cleavage of α-methyl styrene, too. The conversion of α-methyl styrene yielded 23.6 ± 0.8% of acetophenone after 20 h. On the other hand, Tm1459 was not able to catalyze the synthesis of cyanohydrins efficiently. A low yield of rac-mandelonitrile was obtained from benzaldehyde and HCN using either Tm1459-WT or Tm1459-C106L, a variant more active in oxidative catalysis. On the basis of the molecular analysis of GtHNL and Tm1459 active sites, the variants GtHNL-H96A, GtHNL-H96F, and GtHNL-A40H/V42T/H96A/Q110H were produced and evaluated for improved catalytic activity toward oxidative cleavage of styrenes. The amino acid substitution H96A liberates an additional manganese coordination position and enlarges the GtHNL-WT active site cavity. Similarly, the amino acid substitution H96F liberates a coordination site as described for the GtHNL-H96A variant but without enlarging the active site space. All variants were able to catalyze the oxidative cleavage of styrene derivatives. The best results were observed using GtHNL-H96A as catalyst. It displayed a higher yield of acetophenone (42%) as compared to GtHNL-A40H/V42T/H96A/Q110H (12%) and GtHNL-H96F (11%) after 20 h of reaction time. No oxidation of Mn(II) to Mn(III) could be detected by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), whereas evidence for a radical mechanism is presented. Control reactions using 0.1 and 0.5 mM of MnCl2 in the absence of enzyme showed no significant oxidation reaction.
- hydroxynitrile lyase