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Chem Biol. 2001 Oct;8(10):997-1010.

Exploring the impact of different thioesterase domains for the design of hybrid peptide synthetases.

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Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg, Fachbereich Chemie/Biochemie, Hans-Meerwein-Str., D-35032 Marburg, Germany.



A large number of pharmacologically important peptides are synthesized by multifunctional enzymes, the nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs). The thioesterase (Te) domain at the C-terminus of the last NRPS catalyzes product cleavage by hydrolysis or complex macrocyclization. Recent studies with excised Te domains and peptidyl-S-N-acetyl cysteamine substrate substitutes led to substantial insights in terms of cyclization activity and substrate tolerance of these enzymes. Their use in engineered hybrid NRPSs is an interesting but yet only little explored target for approaches to achieve new structural diversity and designed products.


To study the capability of various Te domains to function in hybrid NRPSs, six different Te domains that catalyze different modes of termination in their natural systems were fused to a bimodular model NRPS system, consisting of the first two modules of tyrocidine NRPS, TycA and ProCAT. All Te domains were active in hydrolyzing the enzymatically generated dipeptide substrate D-Phe-Abu from the NRPS template with, however, greatly varying turnover rates. Two Te domains were also capable of hydrolyzing the substrate D-Phe-Pro and partially cyclized the D-Phe-Abu dipeptide, indicating that in an artificial context Te domains may display hydrolytic and cyclization activities that are not easily predictable.


Te domains from heterologous NRPSs can be utilized for the construction of hybrid NRPSs. This is the first comparative study to explore their influence on the product pattern. The inherent specificity and regioselectivity of Te domains should allow control of the desired product cleavage, but can also lead to other modes of termination potentially useful for generating structural diversity. Our results provide the first data for choosing the proper Te domain for a particular termination reaction.

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