Evolving Metalloprotein Catalysts for Small-Molecule and Polymeric Materials
UC Santa Barbara
Characterization and Properties
As nature’s privileged catalysts that can be easily produced by bacteria and yeasts from biorenewable resources, enzymes are capable of exerting exquisite control over chemical reactions. However, the catalytic repertoire of enzymes has been largely limited to reactions found in nature. Since 2020, the Yang group at UC Santa Barbara has been developing a metalloenzyme platform to catalyze synthetically valuable free radical reactions that are never previously encountered in the biological world. The group is the first to coin and implement the concept of metalloredox radical biocatalysis (Science, 2021), a general process for stereoselective radical transformations. Enabled by the rapid, adaptive evolution of these metalloenzymes, metalloredox radical biocatalysis will provide a general strategy for taming free radical intermediates for stereoselective catalysis, a notorious problem in both organic and polymer chemistry. Collectively, these efforts will furnish powerful tools for selective and sustainable synthesis that will impact commodity chemical, agrochemical and pharmaceutical industries.