Engineered Biosynthesis of Regioselectively Modified Aromatic Polyketides Using Bimodular Polyketide Synthases
Public Library of Science
Bacterial aromatic polyketides such as tetracycline and doxorubicin are a medicinally important class of natural products produced as secondary metabolites by actinomyces bacteria. Their backbones are derived from malonyl-CoA units by polyketide synthases (PKSs). The nascent polyketide chain is synthesized by the minimal PKS, a module consisting of four dissociated enzymes. Although the biosynthesis of most aromatic polyketide backbones is initiated through decarboxylation of a malonyl building block (which results in an acetate group), some polyketides, such as the estrogen receptor antagonist R1128, are derived from nonacetate primers. Understanding the mechanism of nonacetate priming can lead to biosynthesis of novel polyketides that have improved pharmacological properties. Recent biochemical analysis has shown that nonacetate priming is the result of stepwise activity of two dissociated PKS modules with orthogonal molecular recognition features. In these PKSs, an initiation module that synthesizes a starter unit is present in addition to the minimal PKS module. Here we describe a general method for the engineered biosynthesis of regioselectively modified aromatic polyketides. When coexpressed with the R1128 initiation module, the actinorhodin minimal PKS produced novel hexaketides with propionyl and isobutyryl primer units. Analogous octaketides could be synthesized by combining the tetracenomycin minimal PKS with the R1128 initiation module. Tailoring enzymes such as ketoreductases and cyclases were able to process the unnatural polyketides efficiently. Based upon these findings, hybrid PKSs were engineered to synthesize new anthraquinone antibiotics with predictable functional group modifications. Our results demonstrate that (i) bimodular aromatic PKSs present a general mechanism for priming aromatic polyketide backbones with nonacetate precursors; (ii) the minimal PKS controls polyketide chain length by counting the number of atoms incorporated into the backbone rather than the number of elongation cycles; and (iii) in contrast, auxiliary PKS enzymes such as ketoreductases, aromatases, and cyclases recognize specific functional groups in the backbone rather than overall chain length. Among the anthracyclines engineered in this study were compounds with (i) more superior activity than R1128 against the breast cancer cell line MCF-7 and (ii) inhibitory activity against glucose-6-phosphate translocase, an attractive target for the treatment of Type II diabetes.
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