Investigation of the post-polyketide synthase (PKS) modifications during spinosyn A biosynthesis in Saccharopolyspora spinosa
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Diverse biological activities of polyketide natural products are often associated with specific structural motifs, biosynthetically introduced after construction of the polyketide core. Therefore, investigation of such "post-polykektide synthase (PKS)" modifications is important, and the accumulated knowledge on these processes can be applied for combinatorial biosynthesis to generate new polyketide derivatives with enhanced biological activities. In addition to the practical value, a lot of unprecedented chemical mechanisms can be found in the enzymes involved therein, which will significantly advance our understanding of enzyme catalysis. The works described in this dissertation focus on elucidating a number of post-PKS modifications involved in the biosynthesis of an insecticidal polyketide, spinosyn A, in Saccharopolyspora spinosa. First, three methyltransferases, SpnH, SpnI, and SpnK, responsible for the modification of the rhamnose moiety, have been investigated to verify their functions and to study how they are coordinated to achieve the desired level of methylation of rhamnose. In vitro assays using purified enzymes not only established that SpnH, SpnI, and SpnK are the respective rhamnose 4ʹ-, 2ʹ-, and 3ʹ-O-methyltransferase, but also validated their roles in the permethylation process of spinosyn A. Investigation of the order of the methylation events revealed that only one route catalyzed by SpnI, SpnK, and SpnH in sequence is productive for the permethylation of the rhamnose moiety, which is likely achieved by the proper control of the expression levels of the methyltransferase genes involved in vivo. The key structural feature of spinosyn A is the presence of the unique tetracyclic architecture likely derived from the monocyclic PKS product. To elucidate this "cross-bridging" process, which had been hypothesized to involve four enzymes, SpnF, SpnJ, SpnL, and SpnM, the presumed polyketide substrate was chemically synthesized using Julia-Kocienski olefination, Stille cross-coupling, and Yamaguchi macrolactonization as key reactions. Incubation of the synthesized substrate with SpnJ produced a new product where the 15-OH group of the substrate is oxidized to the ketone. Next, it was demonstrated that incubation of this ketone intermediate with SpnM produces a tricyclic compound, via a transient monocyclic intermediate with high degree of unsaturation. Whereas it was initially thought that SpnM catalyzes both dehydration and [4+2] cycloaddition in sequence, detailed kinetic analysis revealed that SpnM is only responsible for the dehydration step, and the [4+2] cycloaddition step is indeed catalyzed by SpnF. Finally, successful conversion of the tricyclic intermediate to the tetracyclic core was demonstrated using SpnL. Proposed chemical mechanisms of SpnF and SpnL, Diels-Alder and Rauhut-Currier reactions, respectively, are interesting because enzymes capable of catalyzing these reactions have yet to be characterized in vitro. This work not only establishes the biosynthetic pathway for constructing the spinosyn tetracyclic core, but also epitomizes the significance of the post-PKS modification as a rich source of new enzyme catalysis.