About the Seminar:
Amine functional groups are both ubiquitous and important throughout many industries. Amines are a common motif in pharmaceuticals, as amino acid building blocks, mimicking amine-based neurotransmitters, or to improve solubility of drug formulations. One of the most common ways to add amines to molecules is via nitration and subsequent reduction. However, there are limited methods to reduce nitro groups to amines in the presence of other functional groups with environmentally friendly conditions. Biocatalysis, harnessing enzymes to perform non-natural reactions, is of growing interest to organic chemists to perform green, efficient transformations with high selectivity and yield. In this proposal, a broad range of aliphatic and aromatic amines will be synthesized biocatalytically using nitroreductase enzymes. Nitroreductases are a family of enzymes found in bacteria known be able to reduce nitro groups to amines. Reaction conditions will be optimized to produce amines from a broad range of nitro-containing substrates. Protein modeling will be used to determine useful mutations or eliminate mutations with negative effects. Finally, semi-rational directed evolution will be performed, and the mutated enzymes will be screened to find hits with increased yield. Ultimately, the goal of this proposal is to develop a library of nitroreductase enzymes that reduce aliphatic and aromatic nitro groups to amines in high yield.