The enzymatic production of hydrocarbons (alkanes and alkenes) from fatty acid metabolites provides one strategy for the efficient production of fungible "drop-in" fuels. One enzyme under investigation in the lab (termed OleT) metabolizes fatty acids to alkenes and carbon dioxide, a reaction which is highly atypical for the enzyme class. We are studying the detailed molecular mechanism of OleT and related enzymes, optimizing its activity, and assembling a pathway for the efficient production of fuels in vivo.
Hsieh, C. H., Huang, X., Amaya, J. A., Rutland, C. D., Keys, C. L., Groves, J. T., Austin, R. N., and Makris, T. M. (2017) The Enigmatic P450 Decarboxylase OleT is Capable of, but Evolved to Frustrate, Oxygen Rebound Chemistry, Biochemistry 56 (26), pp 3347–3357
Amaya, J. A., Rutland, C. D., and Makris, T. M. (2016) Mixed regiospecificity compromises alkene synthesis by a cytochrome P450 peroxygenase from Methylobacterium populi, J. Inorg. Biochem. 158, 11-16.