Gatekeeping Ketosynthases Dictate Initiation of Assembly Line Biosynthesis of Pyrrolic Polyketides

Dongqi Yi, Atanu Acharya, James C. Gumbart, Will R. Gutekunst, Vinayak Agarwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Assembly line biosynthesis of polyketide natural products involves checkpoints where identities of thiotemplated intermediates are verified before polyketide extension reactions are allowed to proceed. Determining what these checkpoints are and how they operate is critical for reprogramming polyketide assembly lines. Here we demonstrate that ketosynthase (KS) domains can perform this gatekeeping role. By comparing the substrate specificities for polyketide synthases that extend pyrrolyl and halogenated pyrrolyl substrates, we find that KS domains that need to differentiate between these two substrates exercise high selectivity. We additionally find that amino acid residues in the KS active site facilitate this selectivity and that these residues are amenable to rational engineering. On the other hand, KS domains that do not need to make selectivity decisions in their native physiological context are substrate-promiscuous. We also provide evidence that delivery of substrates to polyketide synthases by non-native carrier proteins is accompanied by reduced biosynthetic efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7617-7622
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 26 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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