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A marine viral halogenase that iodinates diverse substrates

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  • Danai S Gkotsi
  • Hannes Ludewig
  • Sunil V Sharma
  • Jack A Connolly
  • Jagwinder Dhaliwal
  • Yunpeng Wang
  • William P Unsworth
  • Richard J K Taylor
  • Matthew M W McLachlan
  • Stephen Shanahan
  • James H Naismith
  • Rebecca J M Goss


Publication details

JournalNature Chemistry
DateAccepted/In press - 9 Sep 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 14 Oct 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Dec 2019
Issue number12
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)1091–1097
Early online date14/10/19
Original languageEnglish


Oceanic cyanobacteria are the most abundant oxygen-generating phototrophs on our planet and are therefore important to life. These organisms are infected by viruses called cyanophages, which have recently shown to encode metabolic genes that modulate host photosynthesis, phosphorus cycling and nucleotide metabolism. Herein we report the characterization of a wild-type flavin-dependent viral halogenase (VirX1) from a cyanophage. Notably, halogenases have been previously associated with secondary metabolism, tailoring natural products. Exploration of this viral halogenase reveals it capable of regioselective halogenation of a diverse range of substrates with a preference for forming aryl iodide species; this has potential implications for the metabolism of the infected host. Until recently, a flavin-dependent halogenase that is capable of iodination in vitro had not been reported. VirX1 is interesting from a biocatalytic perspective as it shows strikingly broad substrate flexibility and a clear preference for iodination, as illustrated by kinetic analysis. These factors together render it an attractive tool for synthesis.

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