Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 28370791
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017 Apr;56(18):4987-4990
Natural products from marine animals show high potential for the development of new medicines, but drug development based on these compounds is commonly hampered by their low natural abundance. Since many of these metabolites are suspected or known to be produced by uncultivated bacterial symbionts, the rapidly growing diversity of sequenced prokaryotic genomes offers the opportunity to identify alternative, culturable sources of natural products computationally. In this work, we investigated the potential of using this sequenced resource to facilitate the production of meroterpenoid-like compounds related to those from marine sources. This genome-mining strategy revealed a biosynthetic gene cluster for highly modified cytotoxic meroterpenoids related to pelorol and other compounds isolated from sponges. Functional characterization of the terpene cyclase MstE showed that it generates an ent-sterol-like skeleton fused to an aryl moiety from an open-chain precursor and is therefore a promising tool for the chemoenzymatic preparation of synthetically challenging chemical scaffolds.