Engineering enzymes with novel reaction modes promises to expand the applications of biocatalysis in chemical synthesis and will enhance our understanding of how enzymes acquire new functions. The insertion of nitrogen-containing functional groups into unactivated C-H bonds is not catalyzed by known enzymes but was recently demonstrated using engineered variants of cytochrome P450BM3 (CYP102A1) from Bacillus megaterium. Here, we extend this novel P450-catalyzed reaction to include intermolecular insertion of nitrogen into thioethers to form sulfimides. An examination of the reactivity of different P450BM3 variants toward a range of substrates demonstrates that electronic properties of the substrates are important in this novel enzyme-catalyzed reaction. Moreover, amino acid substitutions have a large effect on the rate and stereoselectivity of sulfimidation, demonstrating that the protein plays a key role in determining reactivity and selectivity. These results provide a stepping stone for engineering more complex nitrogen-atom-transfer reactions in P450 enzymes and developing a more comprehensive biocatalytic repertoire.
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