Probing the Flexibility of an Iterative Modular Polyketide Synthase with Non-Native Substrates in Vitro

ACS Chem Biol. 2018 Aug 17;13(8):2261-2268. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.8b00422. Epub 2018 Jun 26.


In the search for molecular machinery for custom biosynthesis of valuable compounds, the modular type I polyketide synthases (PKSs) offer great potential. In this study, we investigate the flexibility of BorM5, the iterative fifth module of the borrelidin synthase, with a panel of non-native priming substrates in vitro. BorM5 differentially extends various aliphatic and substituted substrates. Depending on substrate size and substitution BorM5 can exceed the three iterations it natively performs. To probe the effect of methyl branching on chain length regulation, we engineered a BorM5 variant capable of incorporating methylmalonyl- and malonyl-CoA into its intermediates. Intermediate methylation did not affect overall chain length, indicating that the enzyme does not to count methyl branches to specify the number of iterations. In addition to providing regulatory insight about BorM5, we produced dozens of novel methylated intermediates that might be used for production of various hydrocarbons or pharmaceuticals. These findings enable rational engineering and recombination of BorM5 and inform the study of other iterative modules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Fatty Alcohols / metabolism
  • Malonyl Coenzyme A / metabolism
  • Methylation
  • Polyketide Synthases / genetics
  • Polyketide Synthases / metabolism*
  • Protein Engineering
  • Streptomyces / enzymology*
  • Streptomyces / genetics
  • Streptomyces / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Malonyl Coenzyme A
  • borrelidin
  • Polyketide Synthases