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Biosynthesis of depsipeptides with a 3-hydroxybenzoate moiety and selective anticancer activities involves a chorismatase.

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Shen, Yaoyao 
Sun, Fan 
Zhang, Liu 
Cheng, Yijia 
Zhu, Hongrui 


Neoantimycins are anticancer compounds of 15-membered ring antimycin-type depsipeptides. They are biosynthesized by a hybrid multimodular protein complex of nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) and polyketide synthase (PKS), typically from the starting precursor 3-formamidosalicylate. Examining fermentation extracts of Streptomyces conglobatus, here we discovered four new neoantimycin analogs, unantimycins B-E, in which 3-formamidosalicylates are replaced by an unusual 3-hydroxybenzoate (3-HBA) moiety. Unantimycins B-E exhibited levels of anticancer activities similar to those of the chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin in human lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and melanoma cells. Notably, they mostly displayed no significant toxicity toward noncancerous cells, unlike the serious toxicities generally reported for antimycin-type natural products. Using site-directed mutagenesis and heterologous expression, we found that unantimycin productions are correlated with the activity of a chorismatase homolog, the nat-hyg5 gene, from a type I PKS gene cluster. Biochemical analysis confirmed that the catalytic activity of Nat-hyg5 generates 3-HBA from chorismate. Finally, we achieved selective production of unantimycins B and C by engineering a chassis host. On the basis of these findings, we propose that unantimycin biosynthesis is directed by the neoantimycin-producing NRPS-PKS complex and initiated with the starter unit of 3-HBA. The elucidation of the biosynthetic unantimycin pathway reported here paves the way to improve the yield of these compounds for evaluation in oncotherapeutic applications.



antibiotics, anticancer drug, chorismatase, enzyme catalysis, natural product biosynthesis, non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS), polyketide synthase (PKS), secondary metabolism, unantimycins, Antibiotics, Antineoplastic, Bacterial Proteins, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Survival, Depsipeptides, Humans, Hydroxybenzoates, Organic Chemicals, Polyketide Synthases, Streptomyces

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J Biol Chem

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Elsevier BV
European Commission (276015)