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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A chain initiation factor common to both modular and aromatic polyketide synthases.

Antibiotic-producing polyketide synthases (PKSs) are enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis in Streptomyces and related filamentous bacteria of a remarkably broad range of bioactive metabolites, including antitumour aromatic compounds such as mithramycin and macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin. The molecular basis for the selection of the starter unit on aromatic PKSs is unknown. Here we show that a component of aromatic PKS, previously named 'chain-length factor', is a factor required for polyketide chain initiation and that this factor has decarboxylase activity towards malonyl-ACP (acyl carrier protein). We have re-examined the mechanism of initiation on modular PKSs and have identified as a specific initiation factor a domain of previously unknown function named KSQ, which operates like chain-length factor. Both KSQ and chain-length factor are similar to the ketosynthase domains that catalyse polyketide chain extension in modular multifunctional PKSs and in aromatic PKSs, respectively, except that the ketosynthase domain active-site cysteine residue is replaced by a highly conserved glutamine in KSQ and in chain-length factor. The glutamine residue is important both for decarboxylase activity and for polyketide synthesis.[1]


  1. A chain initiation factor common to both modular and aromatic polyketide synthases. Bisang, C., Long, P.F., Cortés, J., Westcott, J., Crosby, J., Matharu, A.L., Cox, R.J., Simpson, T.J., Staunton, J., Leadlay, P.F. Nature (1999) [Pubmed]
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