Modeling Tryptophan/Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase with Heme Superoxide Mimics: Is Ferryl the Key Intermediate?

Academic Article


  • Tryptophan oxidation in biology has been recently implicated in a vast array of paramount pathogenic conditions in humans, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type-I diabetes, and cancer. This 2,3-dioxygenative cleavage of the indole ring of tryptophan with dioxygen is mediated by two heme enzymes, tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO) and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), during its conversion to N-formylkynurenine in the first and rate-limiting step of kynurenine pathway. Despite the pivotal significance of this enzymatic transformation, a vivid viewpoint of the precise mechanistic events is far from complete. A heme superoxide adduct is thought to be the active oxidant in both TDO and IDO, which, following O-O bond cleavage, presumably generates a key ferryl (FeIV=O) reaction intermediate. This study, for the first time in model chemistry, demonstrates the potential of synthetic heme superoxide adducts to mimic the bioinorganic chemistry of indole dioxygenation by TDO and IDO, challenging the widely accepted categorization of these metal adducts as weak oxidants. Herein, an electronically divergent series of ferric heme superoxo oxidants mediates the facile conversion of an array of indole substrates into their corresponding 2,3-dioxygenated products, while shedding light on an unequivocally occurring, putative ferryl intermediate. The oxygenated indole products have been isolated in ∼31% yield, and characterized by LC-MS, 1H and 13C NMR, and FT-IR methodologies, as well as by 18O2(g) labeling experiments. Distinctly, the most electron-deficient superoxo adduct is observed to react the fastest, specifically with the most electron-rich indole substrate, underscoring the cruciality of electrophilicity of the heme superoxide moiety in facilitating the initial indole activation step. Comprehensive understanding of such mechanistic subtleties will benefit future attempts in the rational design of salient therapeutic agents, including next generation anticancer drug targets with amplified effectivity.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mondal P; Wijeratne GB
  • Start Page

  • 1846
  • End Page

  • 1856
  • Volume

  • 142
  • Issue

  • 4