Biosynthesis of selected natural products from entomopathogenic bacteria

  • This work comprises the investigation of four different biosynthesis gene clusters from Xenorhabdus. Xenorhabdus is an entomopathogenic bacterium that lives in mutualistic symbiosis with its Steinernema nematode host and together they infect and kill insect larvae. Xenorhabdus is well known for the production of so-called specialised metabolites and many of these compounds are synthesised by non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) or NRPS-polyketide synthase (PKS)-hybrids. These enzymes are organised in a modular manner and produce structurally very diverse molecules, often with the help of modifying domains and tailoring enzymes. In general, the genes involved in the biosynthesis are organised in so-called biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) in the genome of the producing strain. Exchanging the native promoter with an inducible promoter, e.g. PBAD, allows the targeted activation of the BGC and in turn the analysis of the biosynthesis product via LC-MS analysis. The first BGC investigated in this work is responsible for the biosynthesis of xenofuranones. Based on gene deletions, this work shows that the NRPS-like enzyme XfsA produces a carboxylated furanone intermediate which is subsequently decarboxylated by XfsB to yield xenofuranone B. The next step in xenofuranone biosynthesis is the O-methylation of xenofuranone B to yield xenofuranone A. A comparative proteomics approach allowed the identification of four methyltransferase candidates and subsequent gene deletions confirmed one of the candidates to be responsible for methylation of xenofuranone B. The proteome analysis was based on the comparison of X. szentirmaii WT and X. szentirmaii Δhfq because distinct levels of the methylated xenofuranone A were observed when the xfs BGC was activated in either WT or Δhfq strain. Hfq is a global transcriptional regulator whose deletion is associated with the down regulation of natural product biosynthesis in Xenorhabdus. The strong PBAD activation of the xfs BGC also allowed the detection of two novel xenofuranone derivatives which arise from incorporation of one 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvic acid as first or second building block, respectively. PBAD based activation of the second BGC addressed in this work lead to the detection of a novel metabolite and compound purification allowed NMR-based structure elucidation. The molecule exhibits two pyrrolizidine moieties and was named pyrrolizwilline (pyrrolizidine + twin (German: “Zwilling”)). The BGC comprises seven genes and single gene deletions as well as heterologous expression in E. coli and NRPS engineering were conducted to investigate the biosynthesis. The first two genes xhpA and xhpB encode a bimodular NRPS and a monooxygenase which synthesise a pyrrolizixenamide-like structure, similar to PxaA and PxaB in pyrrolizixenamide biosynthesis. It is suggested that the acyl side chain incorporated by XhpA is removed by the α,β-hydrolase XhpG. The keto function is then reduced by two subsequent two electron reductions catalysed by XhpC and XhpD. One of these two reduced pyrrolizidine units most likely is extended with glyoxalate prior to non-enzymatic dimerisation with the second pyrrolizidine moiety. To finally yield pyrrolizwilline, L-valine is incorporated, probably by the free-standing condensation domain XhpF. The third BGC investigated is responsible for the production of a tripeptide composed of β-D-homoserine, α-hydroxyglycine and L-valine and is referred to as glyoxpeptide. This work demonstrates that the previously observed glyoxpeptide derivative is derived from glycerol present in the culture medium. Furthermore, this work shows that the monooxygenase domain, which is found in an unusual position between motifs A8 and A9 within the adenylation domain, is responsible for the α-hydroxylation of glycine. It is suggested that the α-hydroxylation of glycine renders the tripeptide prone to hydrolysis via hemiacetal formation. Hence, the XgsC_MonoOx domain might be an interesting candidate for further NRPS engineering. The fourth BGC addressed is responsible for the production of xildivalines and this work describes two additional derivatives which are detected only when the promoter is exchanged and activated in the X. hominickii WT strain but not in X. hominickii Δhfq. Deletion of the methyltransferase encoding gene xisE results in the production of non-methylated xildivalines. It remains to be determined when the N-methylation of L-valine takes place. It is discussed that the methyltransferase could act on the NRPS released product but also during the assembly. The peptide deformylase is not involved in the proposed biosynthesis as xildivaline production is detected in a ΔxisD strain. The PKS XisB features two adjacent, so-called tandem T domains. The inactivation of the first or the second T domain by point mutation causes decreased production titres of detected xildivalines in the respective mutant strain when compared to the wild type.

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Author:Margaretha Anna WestphalenGND
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Helge Björn BodeORCiDGND, Martin GriningerORCiDGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2022/01/18
Year of first Publication:2021
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2021/12/17
Release Date:2022/01/26
Page Number:193
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Sammlung Biologie / Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht