N-dealkylation of an N-cyclopropylamine by horseradish peroxidase. Fate of the cyclopropyl group

C. L. Shaffer, M. D. Morton, R. P. Hanzlik

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67 Scopus citations


Cyclopropylamines inactivate cytochrome P450 enzymes which catalyze their oxidative N-dealkylation. A key intermediate in both processes is postulated to be a highly reactive aminium cation radical formed by single electron transfer (SET) oxidation of the nitrogen center, but direct evidence for this has remained elusive. To address this deficiency and identify the fate of the cyclopropyl group lost upon N-dealkylation, we have investigated the oxidation of N-cyclopropyl-N-methylaniline (3) by horseradish peroxidase, a well-known SET enzyme. For comparison, similar studies were carried out in parallel with N-isopropyl-N-methylaniline (9) and N,N-dimethylaniline (8). Under standard peroxidatic conditions (HRP, H2O2, air), HRP oxidizes 8 completely to N-methylaniline (4) plus formaldehyde within 15-30 min, whereas 9 is oxidized more slowly (<10% in 60 min) to produce only N-isopropylaniline (10) and formaldehyde (acetone and 4 are not formed). In contrast to results with 9, oxidation of 3 is complete in <60 min and affords 4 (20% yield) plus traces of aniline. By using [1′-14C]-3, [1′-13C]-3, and [2′,3′-13C]-3 as substrates, radiochemical and NMR analyses of incubation mixtures revealed that the complete oxidation of 3 by HRP yields 4 (0.2 mol), β-hydroxypropionic acid (17, 0.2 mol), and N-methylquinolinium (16, 0.8 mol). In buffer purged with pure O2, the complete oxidation of 3 yields 4 (0.7 mol), 17 (0.7 mol), and 16 (0.3 mol), while under anaerobic conditions, 16 is formed quantitatively from 3. These results indicate that the aminium ion formed by SET oxidation of 3 undergoes cyclopropyl ring fragmentation exclusively to generate a distonic cation radical (14+•) which then partitions between unimolecular cyclization (leading, after further oxidation, to 16) and bimolecular reaction with dissolved oxygen (leading to 4 and 17 in a 1:1 ratio). Neither β-hydroxypropionaldehyde, acrolein, nor cyclopropanone hydrate are formed as SET metabolites of 3. The synthetic and analytical methods developed in the course of these studies should facilitate the application of cyclopropylamine-containing probes to reactions catalyzed by cytochrome P450 enzymes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8502-8508
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 5 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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