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Chembiochem. 2011 Jul 25;12(11):1759-66. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201100062. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

N-methylation of the amide bond by methyltransferase asm10 in ansamitocin biosynthesis.

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State Key Laboratory of Stress Cell Biology and School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China.


Ansamitocins are potent antitumor agents produced by Actinosynnema pretiosum. As deduced from their structures, an N-methylation on the amide bond is required among the various modifications. The protein encoded by asm10 belongs to the SAM-dependent methyltransferase family. Through gene inactivation and complementation, asm10 was proved to be responsible for the N-methylation of ansamitocins. Asm10 is a 33.0 kDa monomer, as determined by gel filtration. By using N-desmethyl-ansamitocin P-3 as substrate, the optimal temperature and pH for Asm10 catalysis were determined to be 32 °C and 10.0, respectively. Asm10 also showed broad substrate flexibility toward other N-desmethyl-ansamycins and synthetic indolin-2-ones. Through site-directed mutagenesis, Asp154 and Leu155 of Asm10 were confirmed to be essential for its catalysis, possibly through the binding of SAM. The characterization of this unique N-methyltransferase has enriched the toolbox for engineering N-methylated derivatives from both natural and synthetic compounds; this will allow known potential drugs to be modified.

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