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Bioinorganic Chemistry and Applications
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 626909, 13 pages
Review Article

Alkene Cleavage Catalysed by Heme and Nonheme Enzymes: Reaction Mechanisms and Biocatalytic Applications

Department of Chemistry, Organic and Bioorganic Chemistry, University of Graz, Heinrichstrasse 28, 8010 Graz, Austria

Received 29 April 2012; Accepted 13 May 2012

Academic Editor: Ian Butler

Copyright © 2012 Francesco G. Mutti. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The oxidative cleavage of alkenes is classically performed by chemical methods, although they display several drawbacks. Ozonolysis requires harsh conditions (−78°C, for a safe process) and reducing reagents in a molar amount, whereas the use of poisonous heavy metals such as Cr, Os, or Ru as catalysts is additionally plagued by low yield and selectivity. Conversely, heme and nonheme enzymes can catalyse the oxidative alkene cleavage at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure in an aqueous buffer, showing excellent chemo- and regioselectivities in certain cases. This paper focuses on the alkene cleavage catalysed by iron cofactor-dependent enzymes encompassing the reaction mechanisms (in case where it is known) and the application of these enzymes in biocatalysis.