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Unusual Double Beckmann Fragmentation Reaction under Physiological Conditions

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journal contribution
posted on 02.11.2017, 00:00 by Lin-Na Xie, Chun-Hua Huang, Dan Xu, Feng Li, Jun-Ge Zhu, Chen Shen, Bo Shao, Hui-Ying Gao, Balaraman Kalyanaraman, Ben-Zhan Zhu
Pyridinium aldoximes, which are best-known as therapeutic antidotes for organophosphorus chemical warfare nerve-agents and pesticides, have been found to markedly detoxify polyhalogenated quinones, which are a class of carcinogenic intermediates and recently identified disinfection byproducts in drinking water. However, the exact chemical mechanism underlying this detoxication remains unclear. Here we demonstrate that pralidoxime can remarkably facilitate the dechlorination/hydroxylation of the highly toxic tetrachloro-1,4-benzoquinone in two-consecutive steps to generate the much less toxic 2,5-dichloro-3,6-dihydroxy-1,4-benzoquonine, with rate enhancements of up to 180 000-times. On the contrary, no accelerating effect was noticed with O-methylated pralidoxime. The major reaction product from pralidoxime was identified as its corresponding nitrile (2-cyano-1-methylpyridinium chloride). Along with oxygen-18 isotope-labeling studies, a reaction mechanism was proposed in which nucleophilic substitution coupled with an unprecedented double Beckmann fragmentation reaction was responsible for the dramatic enhancement in the detoxification process. This represents the first report of an unusually mild and facile Beckmann-type fragmentation that can occur under normal physiological conditions in two-consecutive steps. The study may have broad biomedical and environmental significance for future investigations of aldoxime therapeutic agents and carcinogenic polyhalogenated quinones.