Divergent mechanisms of iron-containing enzymes for hydrocarbon biosynthesis

  • Courtney E. Wise
  • Job L. Grant
  • Jose A. Amaya
  • Steven C. Ratigan
  • Chun H. Hsieh
  • Olivia M. Manley
  • Thomas M. MakrisEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. 60 Years of Oxygen Activation


Increasing levels of energy consumption, dwindling resources, and environmental considerations have served as compelling motivations to explore renewable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels, including enzymatic routes for hydrocarbon synthesis. Phylogenetically diverse species have long been recognized to produce hydrocarbons, but many of the enzymes responsible have been identified within the past decade. The enzymatic conversion of Cn chain length fatty aldehydes (or acids) to Cn-1 hydrocarbons, alkanes or alkenes, involves a C–C scission reaction. Surprisingly, the enzymes involved in hydrocarbon synthesis utilize non-heme mononuclear iron, dinuclear iron, and thiolate-ligated heme cofactors that are most often associated with monooxygenation reactions. In this review, we examine the mechanisms of several enzymes involved in hydrocarbon biosynthesis, with specific emphasis on the structural and electronic changes that enable this functional switch.

Graphical abstract


Biosynthesis Cofactor Cytochrome Mossbauer spectroscopy Electron paramagnetic resonance 



Financial support was provided by an ASPIRE grant from the USC Vice President of Research and a National Science Foundation CAREER Grant 1555066 (to T.M.M.).


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Copyright information

© SBIC 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Courtney E. Wise
    • 1
  • Job L. Grant
    • 1
  • Jose A. Amaya
    • 1
  • Steven C. Ratigan
    • 1
  • Chun H. Hsieh
    • 1
  • Olivia M. Manley
    • 1
  • Thomas M. Makris
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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