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Chem Biol. 2008 Aug 25;15(8):771-81. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2008.06.005.

DKxanthene biosynthesis--understanding the basis for diversity-oriented synthesis in myxobacterial secondary metabolism.

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Institut für Pharmazeutische Biotechnologie, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany.


The DKxanthenes are a family of yellow pigments which play a critical role in myxobacterial development. Thirteen unique structures from Myxococcus xanthus DK1622 differ in the length of their characteristic polyene functionality, as well as the extent of methyl branching. We aimed to understand the mechanistic basis for this "molecular promiscuity" by analyzing the gene cluster in DK1622, and comparing it to the DKxanthene biosynthetic locus in a second myxobacterium, Stigmatella aurantiaca DW4/3-1, which produces a more limited range of compounds. While the core biosynthetic machinery is highly conserved, M. xanthus contains a putative asparagine hydroxylase function which is not present in S. aurantiaca. This observation accounts, in part, for the significantly larger metabolite family in M. xanthus. Detailed analysis of the encoded hybrid polyketide synthase (PKS)-nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) assembly line provides direct evidence for the mechanism underlying the variable polyene length and the observed pattern of methyl functionalities.

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