A Designed Photoenzyme Promotes Enantioselective [2+2]-Cycloadditions via Triplet Energy Transfer



The ability to programme new modes of catalysis into proteins would allow the development of enzyme families with functions beyond those found in nature. To this end, genetic code expansion methodology holds particular promise, as it allows the site-selective introduction of new functional elements into proteins as non-canonical amino acid side chains. Here, we exploit an expanded genetic code to develop a photoenzyme that operates via triplet energy transfer catalysis, a versatile mode of reactivity in organic synthesis that is currently not accessible to biocatalysis. Installation of a genetically encoded photosensitiser into the beta-propeller scaffold of DA_20_00 converts a de novo Diels-Alderase into a photoenzyme for [2+2]-cycloadditions (EnT1.0). Subsequent development and implementation of a platform for photoenzyme evolution afforded an efficient and enantioselective enzyme (EnT1.3, up to 99% e.e.) that can promote selective cycloadditions that have proven challenging to achieve with small molecule catalysts. EnT1.3 performs >300 turnovers and, in contrast to small molecule photocatalysts, can operate effectively under aerobic conditions. A 1.7 Å resolution X-ray crystal structure of an EnT1.3-product complex shows how multiple functional components work in synergy to promote efficient and selective photocatalysis. This study opens the door to a wealth of new excited-state chemistry in protein active sites and establishes the framework for developing a new generation of evolvable photocatalysts with efficiencies and specificities akin to natural enzymes.


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Supplementary material

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Supplementary Information
Experimental Procedures, Extended Data Figures and Supplementary Information Figures & Tables