Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

October 2009


Several Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains, Mycobacterium leprae, and other mycobacterial pathogens produce a group of small-molecule virulence factors called phenolic glycolipids (PGLs). PGLs play key roles in pathogenicity and host−pathogen interaction. Thus, elucidation of the PGL biosynthetic pathway will not only expand our understanding of natural product biosynthesis, but may also illuminate routes to novel therapeutics to afford alternative lines of defense against mycobacterial infections. In this study, we report an investigation of the enzymatic requirements for the production of long-chain p-hydroxyphenylalkanoate intermediates of PGL biosynthesis. We demonstrate a functional cooperation between a coenzyme A-independent stand-alone didomain initiation module (FadD22) and a 6-domain reducing iterative type I polyketide synthase (Pks15/1) for production of p-hydroxyphenylalkanoate intermediates in in vitro and in vivo FadD22-Pks15/1 reconstituted systems. Our results suggest that Pks15/1 is an iterative type I polyketide synthase with a relaxed control of catalytic cycle iterations, a mechanistic property that explains the origin of a characteristic alkyl chain length variability seen in mycobacterial PGLs. The FadD22-Pks15/1 reconstituted systems lay an initial foundation for future efforts to unveil the mechanism of iterative catalysis control by which the structures of the final products of Pks15/1 are defined, and to scrutinize the functional partnerships of the FadD22-Pks15/1 system with downstream enzymes of the PGL biosynthetic pathway.


This work was originally published in Journal of the American Chemical Society, available at doi:10.1021/ja904792q.



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