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J Antibiot (Tokyo). 2013 Jul;66(7):387-400. doi: 10.1038/ja.2013.25. Epub 2013 Apr 24.

Towards a new science of secondary metabolism.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, Michael Degroote Institute for Infectious Diseases Research, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Secondary metabolites are a reliable and very important source of medicinal compounds. While these molecules have been mined extensively, genome sequencing has suggested that there is a great deal of chemical diversity and bioactivity that remains to be discovered and characterized. A central challenge to the field is that many of the novel or poorly understood molecules are expressed at low levels in the laboratory-such molecules are often described as the 'cryptic' secondary metabolites. In this review, we will discuss evidence that research in this field has provided us with sufficient knowledge and tools to express and purify any secondary metabolite of interest. We will describe 'unselective' strategies that bring about global changes in secondary metabolite output as well as 'selective' strategies where a specific biosynthetic gene cluster of interest is manipulated to enhance the yield of a single product.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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