Enzymatic Synthesis of Epoxidized Metabolites of Docosahexaenoic, Eicosapentaenoic, and Arachidonic Acids

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The epoxidized metabolites of various polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), termed epoxy fatty acids, have a wide range of roles in human physiology. These metabolites are produced endogenously by the cytochrome P450 class of enzymes. Because of their diverse and potent biological effects, there is considerable interest in studying these metabolites. Determining the unique roles of these metabolites in the body is a difficult task, as the epoxy fatty acids must first be obtained in significant amounts and with high purity. Obtaining compounds from natural sources is often labor intensive, and soluble epoxide hydrolases (sEH) rapidly hydrolyze the metabolites. On the other hand, obtaining these metabolites via chemical reactions is very inefficient, due to the difficulty of obtaining pure regioisomers and enantiomers, low yields, and extensive (and expensive) purification. Here, we present an efficient enzymatic synthesis of 19(S),20(R)- and 16(S),17(R)-epoxydocosapentaenoic acids (EDPs) from DHA via epoxidation with BM3, a bacterial CYP450 enzyme isolated originally from Bacillus megaterium (that is readily expressed in Escherichia coli). Characterization and determination of purity is performed with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and mass spectrometry (MS). This procedure illustrates the benefits of enzymatic synthesis of PUFA epoxy metabolites, and is applicable to the epoxidation of other fatty acids, including arachidonic acid (AA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to produce the analogous epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) and epoxyeicosatetraenoic acids (EEQs), respectively.