Structural and biochemical studies enlighten the unspecific peroxygenase from Hypoxylon sp. EC38 as an efficient oxidative biocatalyst

Laura Rotilio, Alexander Swoboda, Katharina Ebner, Claudia Rinnofner, Anton Glieder, Wolfgang Kroutil, Andrea Mattevi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unspecific peroxygenases (UPOs) are glycosylated fungal enzymes that can selectively oxidize C-H bonds. UPOs employ hydrogen peroxide as the oxygen donor and reductant. With such an easy-to-handle cosubstrate and without the need for a reducing agent, UPOs are emerging as convenient oxidative biocatalysts. Here, an unspecific peroxygenase from Hypoxylon sp. EC38 (HspUPO) was identified in an activity-based screen of six putative peroxygenase enzymes that were heterologously expressed in Pichia pastoris. The enzyme was found to tolerate selected organic solvents such as acetonitrile and acetone. HspUPO is a versatile catalyst performing various reactions, such as the oxidation of prim- and sec-alcohols, epoxidations, and hydroxylations. Semipreparative biotransformations were demonstrated for the nonenantioselective oxidation of racemic 1-phenylethanol rac-1b (TON = 13 000), giving the product with 88% isolated yield, and the oxidation of indole 6a to give indigo 6b (TON = 2800) with 98% isolated yield. HspUPO features a compact and rigid three-dimensional conformation that wraps around the heme and defines a funnel-shaped tunnel that leads to the heme iron from the protein surface. The tunnel extends along a distance of about 12 Å with a fairly constant diameter in its innermost segment. Its surface comprises both hydrophobic and hydrophilic groups for dealing with substrates of variable polarities. The structural investigation of several protein-ligand complexes revealed that the active site of HspUPO is accessible to molecules of varying bulkiness with minimal or no conformational changes, explaining the relatively broad substrate scope of the enzyme. With its convenient expression system, robust operational properties, relatively small size, well-defined structural features, and diverse reaction scope, HspUPO is an exploitable candidate for peroxygenase-based biocatalysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11511-11525
Number of pages15
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2021


  • biocatalytic oxidation
  • monooxygenase
  • peroxygenase
  • protein tunnels
  • substrate recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Catalysis


  • BioTechMed-Graz
  • NAWI Graz


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