Enantiopure cis-dihydrodiol bacterial metabolites of substituted benzene substrates were used as precursors, in a chemoenzymatic synthesis of the corresponding benzene oxides and of a substituted oxepine, via dihydrobenzene oxide intermediates. A rapid total racemization of the substituted benzene 2,3-oxides was found to have occurred, via their oxepine valence tautomers, in accord with predictions and theoretical calculations. Reduction of a substituted arene oxide to yield a racemic arene hydrate was observed. Arene hydrates have also been synthesised, in enantiopure form, from the corresponding dihydroarene oxide or trans-bromoacetate precursors. Biotransformation of one arene hydrate enantiomer resulted in a toluene-dioxygenase catalysed cis-dihydroxylation to yield a benzene cis-triol metabolite.
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