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SpnF, an enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of spinosyn A, catalyzes a transannular Diels-Alder reaction. Quantum mechanical computations and dynamic simulations now show that this cycloaddition is not well described as either a concerted or stepwise process, and dynamical effects influence the identity and timing of bond formation. The transition state for the reaction is ambimodal and leads directly to both the observed Diels-Alder and an unobserved [6+4] cycloadduct. The potential energy surface bifurcates and the cycloadditions occur by dynamically stepwise modes featuring an "entropic intermediate". A rapid Cope rearrangement converts the [6+4] adduct into the observed [4+2] adduct. Control of nonstatistical dynamical effects may serve as another way by which enzymes control reactions.

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Medvedev, et al. have examined the cyclization step in the formation of Spinosyn A, which is catalyzed by the putative Diels-Alderase enzyme SpnF.1 This work follows on the computational study done by Houk, Singleton and co-workers,2 which I have discussed...