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Title: Dissecting tunicamycin biosynthesis : a potent carbohydrate processing enzyme inhibitor
Author: Wyszynski, Filip Jan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2703 9642
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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Tunicamycin nucleoside antibiotics were the first known to target the formation of peptidoglycan precursor lipid I in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis. They have also been used extensively as inhibitors of protein N-glycosylation in eukaryotes, blocking the biogenesis of early intermediate dolichyl-pyrophosphoryl-N-acetylglucosamine. Despite their unusual structures and useful biological properties, little is known about their biosynthesis. Elucidating the metabolic pathway of tunicamycins and gaining an understanding of the enzymes involved in key bond forming processes would not only be of great academic value in itself, it would also unlock a comprehensive toolbox of biosynthetic machinery for the production of tunicamycin analogues which have the potential to act as novel therapeutic antibiotics or as specific inhibitors of medicinally important NDP-dependent glycosyltransferases. I – Cloning the tunicamycin biosynthetic gene cluster. We report identification of the tunicamycin biosynthetic genes in Streptomyces chartreusis following genome sequencing and a chemically-guided strategy for in silico genome mining that allowed rapid identification and unification of an operon fractured across contigs. Heterologous expression established a likely minimal gene set necessary for antibiotic production, from which a detailed metabolic pathway for tunicamycin biosynthesis is proposed. II – Natural product isolation and degradation. We have developed efficient methods for the isolation of tunicamycins from liquid culture in preparative quantities. A subsequent relay synthesis furnished advanced biosynthetic intermediates for use as precursors in the production of tunicamycin analogues and as substrates for the in vitro characterisation of individual Tun enzymes. III – Functional characterisation of tun gene products. Individual tun gene products were over-expressed and purified from recombinant E. coli hosts, allowing in vitro functional studies to take place. An NMR assay of biosynthetic enzyme TunF showed it acted as a UDP-GlcNAc-4-epimerase. Putative glycosyltransferase TunD showed hydrolytic activity towards substrate UDP-GlcNAc but failed to accept to the expected natural acceptor substrate, providing unexpected insights into the ordering of biosynthetic events in the tunicamycin pathway. Initial studies into the over-expression of the putative sugar N-deacetylase TunE were also described. IV – Towards synthesis of tunicamycin fragments. Investigations into a novel synthesis of D-galactosamine – a structural motif within tunicamycin – led to the unexpected observation of inverted regioselectivity upon RhII-catalysed C-H insertion of a D-mannose-derived sulfamate. This was the first example of N-insertion at the beta- rather than gamma-C-H based on conformation alone and warranted further investigation. The X-ray structure of a key sulfamate precursor offered valuable insights as to the source of this unique selectivity.
Supervisor: Davis, Benjamin G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Antibiotics ; Biosynthesis ; Chemical biology ; Enzymes ; Molecular genetics ; Organic chemistry ; Organic synthesis ; Bioinformatics (biochemistry) ; Glycobiology ; Tunicamycin ; biosynthesis ; natural product ; Streptomyces ; antibiotic ; epimerase ; glycosyltransferase