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Biochemistry. 2009 Sep 22;48(37):8830-41. doi: 10.1021/bi901018q.

Complete characterization of the seventeen step moenomycin biosynthetic pathway.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The moenomycins are phosphoglycolipid antibiotics produced by Streptomyces ghanaensis and related organisms. The phosphoglycolipids are the only known active site inhibitors of the peptidoglycan glycosyltransferases, an important family of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of the bacterial cell wall. Although these natural products have exceptionally potent antibiotic activity, pharmacokinetic limitations have precluded their clinical use. We previously identified the moenomycin biosynthetic gene cluster in order to facilitate biosynthetic approaches to new derivatives. Here, we report a comprehensive set of genetic and enzymatic experiments that establish functions for the 17 moenomycin biosynthetic genes involved in the synthesis of moenomycin and variants. These studies reveal the order of assembly of the full molecular scaffold and define a subset of seven genes involved in the synthesis of bioactive analogues. This work will enable both in vitro and fermentation-based reconstitution of phosphoglycolipid scaffolds so that chemoenzymatic approaches to novel analogues can be explored.

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