Single step syntheses of (1S)-aryl-tetrahydroisoquinolines by norcoclaurine synthases
The 1-aryl-tetrahydroisoquinoline (1-aryl-THIQ) moiety is found in many biologically active molecules. Single enantiomer chemical syntheses are challenging and although some biocatalytic routes have been reported, the substrate scope is limited to certain structural motifs. The enzyme norcoclaurine synthase (NCS), involved in plant alkaloid biosynthesis, has been shown to perform stereoselective Pictet-Spengler reactions between dopamine and several carbonyl substrates. Here, benzaldehydes are explored as substrates and found to be accepted by both wild-type and mutant constructs of NCS. In particular, the variant M97V gives a range of (1 S)-aryl-THIQs in high yields (48-99%) and e.e.s (79-95%). A co-crystallised structure of the M97V variant with an active site reaction intermediate analogue is also obtained with the ligand in a pre-cyclisation conformation, consistent with (1 S)-THIQs formation. Selected THIQs are then used with catechol O-methyltransferases with exceptional regioselectivity. This work demonstrates valuable biocatalytic approaches to a range of (1 S)-THIQs.