Intrinsic and extrinsic programming of product chain length and release mode in fungal collaborating iterative polyketide synthases

Yuquan Xu, Istvan Molnar, Chen Wang, Xiaojing Wang, Qingpei Liu, Ya Ming Xu, A. A. Leslie Gunatilaka, Xiaoyi Wei, Liwen Zhang, Qun Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Combinatorial biosynthesis with fungal polyketide synthases (PKSs) promises to produce unprecedented bioactive "unnatural"natural products (uNPs) for drug discovery. Genome mining of the dothideomycete Rhytidhysteron rufulum uncovered a collaborating highly reducing PKS (hrPKS)-nonreducing PKS (nrPKS) pair. These enzymes produce trace amounts of rare Stype benzenediol macrolactone congeners with a phenylacetate core in a heterologous host. However, subunit shuffling and domain swaps with voucher enzymes demonstrated that all PKS domains are highly productive. This contradiction led us to reveal novel programming layers exerted by the starter unit acyltransferase (SAT) and the thioesterase (TE) domains on the PKS system. First, macrocyclic vs linear product formation is dictated by the intrinsic biosynthetic program of the TE domain. Next, the chain length of the hrPKS product is strongly influenced in trans by the off-loading preferences of the nrPKS SAT domain. Last, TE domains are size-selective filters that facilitate or obstruct product formation from certain priming units. Thus, the intrinsic programs of the SAT and TE domains are both part of the extrinsic program of the hrPKS subunit and modulate the observable metaprogram of the whole PKS system. Reconstruction of SAT and TE phylogenies suggests that these domains travel different evolutionary trajectories, with the resulting divergence creating potential conflicts in the PKS metaprogram. Such conflicts often emerge in chimeric PKSs created by combinatorial biosynthesis, reducing biosynthetic efficiency or even incapacitating the system. Understanding the points of failure for such engineered biocatalysts is pivotal to advance the biosynthetic production of uNPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17093-17104
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 7 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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