The enzymatic cleavage of C–C bonds in β-diketones is, comparatively, a little studied biochemical process, but one that has important relevance to human metabolism, bioremediation and preparative biocatalysis. In recent studies, four types of enzymes have come to light that cleave C–C bonds in the β-diketone functionality using different chemical mechanisms. OPH [oxidized poly(vinyl alcohol) hydrolase from Pseudomonas sp. strain VM15C], which cleaves nonane-4,6-dione to butyrate and pentan-2-one is a serine-triad hydrolase. Dke1 (diketone-cleaving enzyme from Acinetobacter johnsonii) is a dioxygenase, cleaving acetylacetone to methylglyoxal and acetate. Fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase cleaves fumarylacetoacetate to fumarate and acetoacetate using a water molecule, activated by a catalytic His/Asp dyad, aided by a calcium ion that both chelates the enol acid form of the substrate and indirectly positions the water for nucleophilic attack at a carbonyl group. 6-Oxocamphor hydrolase cleaves nonenolizable cyclic β-diketones and is a homologue of the crotonase superfamily, employing a catalytic His/Asp dyad to activate a water molecule for nucleophilic attack at a carbonyl group on one prochiral face of the diketone substrate, effecting desymmetrizations of symmetrical substrates.

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