QM/MM Study Into the Mechanism of Oxidative C=C Double Bond Cleavage by Lignostilbene-α,β-Dioxygenase

Hafiz Saqib Ali, Sam P. De Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The enzymatic biosynthesis of fragrance molecules from lignin fragments is an important reaction in biotechnology for the sustainable production of fine chemicals. In this work we investigated the biosynthesis of vanillin from lignostilbene by a nonheme iron dioxygenase using QM/MM and tested several suggested proposals via either an epoxide or dioxetane intermediate. Binding of dioxygen to the active site of the protein results in the formation of an iron(II)-
superoxo species with lignostilbene cation radical. The dioxygenase mechanism starts with electrophilic attack of the terminal oxygen atom of the superoxo group on the central C=C bond of lignostilbene, and the second-coordination sphere effects in the substrate binding pocket guide the reaction towards dioxetane formation. The computed mechanism is rationalized with thermochemical cycles and valence bond schemes that explain the electron transfer processes during the
reaction mechanism. Particularly, the polarity of the protein and the local electric field and dipole moments enable a facile electron transfer and an exergonic dioxetane formation pathway.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChemistry: A European Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Feb 2024


  • Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms
  • Biocatalysis
  • Enzyme catalysis
  • Oxidation
  • QM/MM


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