Genome sequencing of nature’s biodiversity, including plants, marine actinomycetes and cyanobacteria, have spurred new research on elucidating the secondary metabolite biosynthetic machinery. While discovery of gene clusters responsible for natural product biosynthetic pathways have become routine, monumental challenges arise in validation of enzyme function especially for non-modular pathways leading to complex molecules. Our laboratory investigates ergot, Nocardiopsis and multiple genera of group V cyanobacteria to harness their genomes for natural product pathways. In order to validate biosynthetic machinery towards structurally complex non-modular products like alkaloids, for example, we rely on heterologous enzyme expression, organic synthesis and biochemical complementation techniques. The seminar will highlight our recent successes in elucidating the biosynthetic mechanisms of isonitrile synthases, cyclic dipeptide synthases and prenyltransferases involved in stereoselective natural product pathways.
Dr. Wendy Kelly, (404) 285-1154