Synthetic approaches to investigate the chemical mechanism in the biosynthesis of natural products
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The study of the biosynthetic logic of natural products has established itself to be one of the more exciting areas of research and have become an important part of modern drug discovery and development efforts. Therefore, understanding the pathway and the chemical mechanism of the biosynthesis of natural products is important in that knowledge on these processes can be applied for combinatorial biosynthesis to generate new natural product 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 the chemical mechanism of a number of enzymes involved in natural product biosynthesis by utilizing the versatility of synthetic chemistry to prepare enzyme substrates and mechanistic probes. First, SpnF and SpnL responsible for constructing the tetracyclic architecture of spinosyn A have been investigated. In vitro assay revealed the importance of the highly conjugated system for the [4+2]cycloaddition catalyzed by SpnF. Biochemical studies strongly suggest that SpnL employs the Rauhut-Currier mechanism for the second cyclization step in the biosynthesis of spinosyn A. It was also demonstrated that SpnL requires SAM for its activity. Second, a radical SAM enzyme DesII involved in the desosamine pathway has been investigated. It has been demonstrated that DesII can catalyze the dehydrogenation of TDP-D-quinovose as well as the deamination of the natural substrate, which makes DesII unique among radical SAM enzymes. In vitro assays revealed that DesII requires stoichiometric amount of SAM, which. EPR study firmly established the intermediacy of a C-3 radical in the DesII-catalyzed dehydrogenation of TDP-D-quinovose. Finally, the chemical mechanism of AXS responsible for the biosynthesis of UDP-apiose has been investigated. In vitro activity assay using UDP-2F-glucuronic acid showed that the analog is a competitive inhibitor of AXS. A coupled assay strategy was also developed to investigate the chemical mechanism of AXS in the reverse direction. In addition, the stereospecificity of two separate hydride transfer steps of AXS reaction has been firmly established.