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Combinatorial biosynthesis utilizes the genes of biosynthetic pathways that produce microbial products to create novel chemical structures. The engineering of mondular polyketide synthase (PKS) genes has been the major focus of this effort and has led to the production of analogs of macrolide antibiotics like the erythromycins and their derived ketolides, and of the immunosuppressive macrolide FK-520 (Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co Ltd). Approaches to making analogs of the promising antitumor compounds known as epothilones are also being explored. Lead compounds for further study have resulted and routes to analogs of other pharmacologically important compounds have been established. To facilitate this work, many new tools for manipulating and studying the multifunctional PKSs have been developed including the development of Escherichia coli as a PKS expression last. These developments have resulted in faster ways of engineering PKS to produce new compounds for the development of chemotherapeutic agents from natural products.


C R Hutchinson, R McDaniel. Combinatorial biosynthesis in microorganisms as a route to new antimicrobial, antitumor and neuroregenerative drugs. Current opinion in investigational drugs (London, England : 2000). 2001 Dec;2(12):1681-90

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PMID: 11892929

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