Background: Modular polyketide synthases (PKSs) are large multifunctional proteins that catalyze the biosynthesis of structurally complex bioactive products. The modular organization of PKSs has allowed the application of a combinatorial approach to the synthesis of novel polyketides via the manipulation of these biocatalysts at the genetic level. The inherent specificity of PKSs for their natural substrates, however, may place limits on the spectrum of molecular diversity that can be achieved in polyketide products. With the aim of further understanding PKS specificity, as a route to exploiting PKSs in combinatorial synthesis, we chose to examine the substrate specificity of a single intact domain within a bimodular PKS to investigate its capacity to utilize unnatural substrates. Results: We used a blocked mutant of a bimodular PKS in which formation of the triketide product could occur only via uptake and processing of a synthetic diketide intermediate. By introducing systematic changes in the native diketide structure, by means of the synthesis of unnatural diketide analogs, we have shown that the ketosynthase domain of module 2 (KS2 domain) in 6-deoxyerythronolide B synthase (DEBS) tolerates a broad range of variations in substrate structure, but it strongly discriminates against some others. Conclusions: Defining the boundaries of substrate recognition within PKS domains is crucial to the rationally engineered biosynthesis of novel polyketide products, many of which could be prepared only with great difficulty, if at all, by direct chemical synthesis or semi-synthesis. Our results suggest that the KS2 domain of DEBS1 has a relatively relaxed specificity that can be exploited for the design and synthesis of medicinally important polyketide products.
Chuck, J. A., McPherson, M., Huang, H., Jacobsen, J. R., Khosla, C., & Cane, D. E. (1997). Molecular recognition of diketide substrates by a β-ketoacyl-acyl carrier protein synthase domain within a bimodular polyketide synthase. Chemistry and Biology, 4(10), 757–766. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1074-5521(97)90314-8