OleT is a cytochrome P450 enzyme that catalyzes the removal of carbon dioxide from variable chain length fatty acids to form 1-alkenes. In this work, we examine the binding and metabolic profile of OleT with shorter chain length (n ≤ 12) fatty acids that can form liquid transportation fuels. Transient kinetics and product analyses confirm that OleT capably activates hydrogen peroxide with shorter substrates to form the high-valent intermediate Compound I and largely performs C-C bond scission. However, the enzyme also produces fatty alcohol side products using the high-valent iron oxo chemistry commonly associated with insertion of oxygen into hydrocarbons. When presented with a short chain fatty acid that can initiate the formation of Compound I, OleT oxidizes the diagnostic probe molecules norcarane and methylcyclopropane in a manner that is reminiscent of reactions of many CYP hydroxylases with radical clock substrates. These data are consistent with a decarboxylation mechanism in which Compound I abstracts a substrate hydrogen atom in the initial step. Positioning of the incipient substrate radical is a crucial element in controlling the efficiency of activated OH rebound.
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