Carbon–fluorine bond cleavage mediated by metalloenzymes
Fluorochemicals are a widely distributed class of compounds and have been utilized across a wide range of industries for decades. Given the environmental toxicity and adverse health threats of some fluorochemicals, the development of new methods for their decomposition is significant to public health. However, the carbon–fluorine (C–F) bond is among the most chemically robust bonds; consequently, the degradation of fluorinated hydrocarbons is exceptionally difficult. Here, metalloenzymes that catalyze the cleavage of this chemically challenging bond are reviewed. These enzymes include histidine-ligated heme-dependent dehaloperoxidase and tyrosine hydroxylase, thiolate-ligated heme-dependent cytochrome P450, and four nonheme oxygenases, namely, tetrahydrobiopterin-dependent aromatic amino acid hydroxylase, 2-oxoglutarate-dependent hydroxylase, Rieske dioxygenase, and thiol dioxygenase. While much of the literature regarding the aforementioned enzymes highlights their ability to catalyze C–H bond activation and functionalization, in many cases, the C–F bond cleavage has been shown to occur on fluorinated substrates. A copper-dependent laccase-mediated system representing an unnatural radical defluorination approach is also described. Detailed discussions on the structure–function relationships and catalytic mechanisms provide insights into biocatalytic defluorination, which may inspire drug design considerations and environmental remediation of halogenated contaminants.