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J Nat Prod. 2011 Mar 25;74(3):526-36. doi: 10.1021/np1008152. Epub 2011 Jan 6.

Comparative analysis of the biosynthetic gene clusters and pathways for three structurally related antitumor antibiotics: bleomycin, tallysomycin, and zorbamycin.

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Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-2222, United States.


The biosynthetic gene clusters for the glycopeptide antitumor antibiotics bleomycin (BLM), tallysomycin (TLM), and zorbamycin (ZBM) have been recently cloned and characterized from Streptomyces verticillus ATCC15003, Streptoalloteichus hindustanus E465-94 ATCC31158, and Streptomyces flavoviridis ATCC21892, respectively. The striking similarities and differences among the biosynthetic gene clusters for the three structurally related glycopeptide antitumor antibiotics prompted us to compare and contrast their respective biosynthetic pathways and to investigate various enzymatic elements. The presence of different numbers of isolated nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) domains in all three clusters does not result in major structural differences of the respective compounds. The seemingly identical domain organization of the NRPS modules responsible for heterocycle formation, on the other hand, is contrasted by the biosynthesis of two different structural entities, bithiazole and thiazolinyl-thiazole, for BLM/TLM and ZBM, respectively. Variations in sugar biosynthesis apparently dictate the glycosylation patterns distinct for each of the BLM, TLM, and ZBM glycopeptide scaffolds. These observations demonstrate nature's ingenuity and flexibility in achieving structural differences and similarities via various mechanisms and will surely inspire combinatorial biosynthesis efforts to expand on natural product structural diversity.

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