Tailoring pathway modularity in the biosynthesis of erythromycin analogs heterologously engineered in E. coli

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  29 May 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 4, e1500077
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500077


Type I modular polyketide synthases are responsible for potent therapeutic compounds that include avermectin (antihelinthic), rapamycin (immunosuppressant), pikromycin (antibiotic), and erythromycin (antibiotic). However, compound access and biosynthetic manipulation are often complicated by properties of native production organisms, prompting an approach (termed heterologous biosynthesis) illustrated in this study through the reconstitution of the erythromycin pathway through Escherichia coli. Using this heterologous system, 16 tailoring pathways were introduced, systematically producing eight chiral pairs of deoxysugar substrates. Successful analog formation for each new pathway emphasizes the remarkable flexibility of downstream enzymes to accommodate molecular variation. Furthermore, analogs resulting from three of the pathways demonstrated bioactivity against an erythromycin-resistant Bacillus subtilis strain. The approach and results support a platform for continued molecular diversification of the tailoring components of this and other complex natural product pathways in a manner that mirrors the modular nature of the upstream megasynthases responsible for aglycone polyketide formation.

  • erythromycin
  • antibiotic
  • E. coli
  • Polyketide
  • heterologous biosynthesis
  • analogue

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text