Monooxygenase activity of type 3 copper proteins

Shinobu Itoh, Shunichi Fukuzumi

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193 Scopus citations


The molecular mechanism of the monooxygenase (phenolase) activity of type 3 copper proteins has been examined in detail both in the model systems and in the enzymatic systems. The reaction of a side-on peroxo dicopper(II) model compound (A) and neutral phenols proceeds via a proton-coupled electron-transfer (PCET) mechanism to generate phenoxyl radical species, which collapse each other to give the corresponding C-C coupling dimer products. In this reaction, a bis(μ-oxo)dicopper(III) complex (B) generated by O-O bond homolysis of A is suggested to be a real active species. On the other hand, the reaction of lithium phenolates (deprotonated form of phenols) with the same side-on peroxo dicopper(II) complex proceeds via an electrophilic aromatic substitution mechanism to give the oxygenated products (catechols). The mechanistic difference between these two systems has been discussed on the basis of the Marcus theory of electron transfer and Hammett analysis. Mechanistic details of the monooxygenase activity of tyrosinase have also been examined using a simplified enzymatic reaction system to demonstrate that the enzymatic reaction mechanism is virtually the same as that of the model reaction, that is, an electrophilic aromatic substitution mechanism. In addition, the monooxygenase activity of the oxygen carrier protein hemocyanin has been explored for the first time by employing urea as an additive in the reaction system. In this case as well, the orthohydroxylation of phenols to catechols has been demonstrated to involve the same ionic mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-600
Number of pages9
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


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