Biocatalytic Cyclopropanation of Fatty Acid Chains

Chemistry and Spanish double major Xavier Marshall (E&H ’18) is attempting to prepare cyclopropanated derivatives of fatty acid chains, using the enzyme cyclopropane fatty acid synthase (CFA synthase) as a catalyst. These products would be useful synthetic building blocks in preparing cyclopropanated long-chain ionic liquids, which have shown promise as stationary phases for gas chromatography. CFA synthase, whose natural substrate is cis-unsaturated phospholipids in the membranes of E. coli, might be able to accomplish the cyclopropanation of cis-fatty acid derivatives more efficiently than can be accomplished via conventional organic synthesis. Xavier is preparing a variety of derivatives and formulations of oleic acid to try with CFA synthase.