Despite their broad anti-infective utility, the biosynthesis of the paradigm carbapenem antibiotic, thienamycin, remains largely unknown. Apart from the first two steps shared with a simple carbapenem, the pathway sharply diverges to the more structurally complex members of this class of β-lactam antibiotics, such as thienamycin. Existing evidence points to three putative cobalamin dependent radical S-adenosylmethionine (RS) enzymes, ThnK, ThnL, and ThnP, as potentially being responsible for assembly of the ethyl side chain at C6, bridgehead epimerization at C5, installation of the C2-thioether side chain, and C2/3 desaturation. The C2 substituent has been demonstrated to be derived by stepwise truncation of CoA, but the timing of these events with respect to C2-S bond formation is not known. We show that ThnK of the three apparent cobalamin-dependent RS enzymes performs sequential methylations to build out the C6-ethyl side chain in a stereocontrolled manner. This enzymatic reaction was found to produce expected RS methylase coproducts S-adenosylhomocysteine and 5′-deoxyadenosine, and to require cobalamin. For double methylation to occur, the carbapenam substrate must bear a CoA-derived C2-thioether side chain, implying the activity of a previous sulfur insertion by an as-yet unidentified enzyme. These insights allow refinement of the central steps in complex carbapenem biosynthesis.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Aug 18 2015|
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