Nonactin biosynthesis: Setting limits on what can be achieved with precursor-directed biosynthesis

Brian R. Kusche, Joshua B. Phillips, Nigel D. Priestley

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14 Scopus citations


Nonactin, produced by Streptomyces griseus ETH A7796, is a macrotetrolide assembled from nonactic acid. It is an effective inhibitor of drug efflux in multidrug resistant erythroleukemia K562 cells at sub-toxic concentrations and has been shown to possess both antibacterial and antitumor activity. As total synthesis is impractical for the generation of nonactin analogs we have studied precursor-directed biosynthesis as an alternative as it is known that nonactic acid can serve as a nonactin precursor in vivo. To determine the scope of the approach we prepared and evaluated a furan-based nonactic acid derivative, 11. Although no new nonactin analogs were detected when 11 was administered to S. griseus fermentative cultures, a significant inhibition of nonactin biosynthesis was noted (IC50 ∼ 100 μM). Cell mass, nonactic acid production and the generation of other secondary metabolites in the culture were unaffected by 11 demonstrating that 11 selectively inhibited the assembly of nonactin from nonactic acid. While we were unable to generate new nonactin analogs we have discovered, however, a useful inhibitor that we can use to probe the mechanism of nonactin assembly with the ultimate goal of developing more successful precursor-directed biosynthesis transformations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1233-1235
Number of pages3
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2009


  • Biosynthesis
  • Nonactin
  • Precursor-directed


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