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Optimized Biocatalytic Synthesis of 2‐Selenopyrimidine Nucleosides by Transglycosylation**

Hellendahl, Katja F.; Kaspar, Felix; Zhou, Xinrui; Yang, Zhaoyi; Huang, Zhen; Neubauer, Peter; Kurreck, Anke

Selenium‐modified nucleosides are powerful tools to study the structure and function of nucleic acids and their protein interactions. The widespread application of 2‐selenopyrimidine nucleosides is currently limited by low yields in established synthetic routes. Herein, we describe the optimization of the synthesis of 2‐Se‐uridine and 2‐Se‐thymidine derivatives by thermostable nucleoside phosphorylases in transglycosylation reactions using natural uridine or thymidine as sugar donors. Reactions were performed at 60 or 80 °C and at pH 9 under hypoxic conditions to improve the solubility and stability of the 2‐Se‐nucleobases in aqueous media. To optimize the conversion, the reaction equilibria in analytical transglycosylation reactions were studied. The equilibrium constants of phosphorolysis of the 2‐Se‐pyrimidines were between 5 and 10, and therefore differ by an order of magnitude from the equilibrium constants of any other known case. Hence, the thermodynamic properties of the target nucleosides are inherently unfavorable, and this complicates their synthesis significantly. A tenfold excess of sugar donor was needed to achieve 40−48 % conversion to the target nucleoside. Scale‐up of the optimized conditions provided four Se‐containing nucleosides in 6–40 % isolated yield, which compares favorably to established chemical routes.
Published in: ChemBioChem, 10.1002/cbic.202100067, Wiley