Structural basis of catalysis in the bacterial monoterpene synthases linalool synthase and 1,8-cineole synthase

Vijaykumar Karuppiah, Kara Ranaghan, Nicole G. H. Leferink, LO Johannissen, Muralidharan Shanmugam, Aisling Ni Cheallaigh, Nathan J. Bennett, Lewis J. Kearsey, Eriko Takano, John M. Gardiner, Marc Van der Kamp, Sam Hay, Adrian Mulholland, David Leys, NS Scrutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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Terpenoids form the largest and stereochemically most diverse class of natural products, and there is considerable interest in producing these by biocatalysis with whole cells or purified enzymes, and by metabolic engineering. The monoterpenes are an important class of terpenes and are industrially important as flavors and fragrances. We report here structures for the recently discovered Streptomyces clavuligerus monoterpene synthases linalool synthase (bLinS) and 1,8-cineole synthase (bCinS), and we show that these are active biocatalysts for monoterpene production using biocatalysis and metabolic engineering platforms. In metabolically engineered monoterpene-producing E. coli strains, use of bLinS leads to 300-fold higher linalool production compared with the corresponding plant monoterpene synthase. With bCinS, 1,8-cineole is produced with 96% purity compared to 67% from plant species. Structures of bLinS and bCinS, and their complexes with fluorinated substrate analogues, show that these bacterial monoterpene synthases are similar to previously characterized sesquiterpene synthases. Molecular dynamics simulations suggest that these monoterpene synthases do not undergo large-scale conformational changes during the reaction cycle, making them attractive targets for structured-based protein engineering to expand the catalytic scope of these enzymes toward alternative monoterpene scaffolds. Comparison of the bLinS and bCinS structures indicates how their active sites steer reactive carbocation intermediates to the desired acyclic linalool (bLinS) or bicyclic 1,8-cineole (bCinS) products. The work reported here provides the analysis of structures for this important class of monoterpene synthase. This should now guide exploitation of the bacterial enzymes as gateway biocatalysts for the production of other monoterpenes and monoterpenoids.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6268-6282
Number of pages15
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2017


  • Molecular dynamics simulations
  • Monoterpene synthase
  • Monoterpenoids
  • Protein crystallography
  • Sesquiterpene synthase
  • Terpenes


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