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Chlorinated natural products include vancomycin and cryptophycin A. Their biosynthesis involves regioselective chlorination by flavin-dependent halogenases. We report the structural characterization of tryptophan 7-halogenase (PrnA), which regioselectively chlorinates tryptophan. Tryptophan and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) are separated by a 10 angstrom–long tunnel and bound by distinct enzyme modules. The FAD module is conserved in halogenases and is related to flavin-dependent monooxygenases. On the basis of biochemical studies, crystal structures, and by analogy with monooxygenases, we predict that FADH 2 reacts with O 2 to make peroxyflavin, which is decomposed by Cl – . The resulting HOCl is guided through the tunnel to tryptophan, where it is activated to participate in electrophilic aromatic substitution.

Original publication




Journal article




American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Publication Date





2216 - 2219