Conserved biosynthetic pathways for phosalacine, bialaphos and newly discovered phosphonic acid natural products

Joshua Av Blodgett, Jun Kai Zhang, Xiaomin Yu, William W. Metcalf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural products containing phosphonic or phosphinic acid functionalities often display potent biological activities with applications in medicine and agriculture. The herbicide phosphinothricin-tripeptide (PTT) was the first phosphinate natural product discovered, yet despite numerous studies, questions remain surrounding key transformations required for its biosynthesis. In particular, the enzymology required to convert phosphonoformate to carboxyphosphonoenolpyruvate and the mechanisms underlying phosphorus methylation remain poorly understood. In addition, the model for non-ribosomal peptide synthetase assembly of the intact tripeptide product has undergone numerous revisions that have yet to be experimentally tested. To further investigate the biosynthesis of this unusual natural product, we completely sequenced the PTT biosynthetic locus from Streptomyces hygroscopicus and compared it with the orthologous cluster from Streptomyces viridochromogenes. We also sequenced and analyzed the closely related phosalacine (PAL) biosynthetic locus from Kitasatospora phosalacinea. Using data drawn from the comparative analysis of the PTT and PAL pathways, we also evaluate three related recently discovered phosphonate biosynthetic loci from Streptomyces sviceus, Streptomyces sp. WM6386 and Frankia alni. Our observations address long-standing biosynthetic questions related to PTT and PAL production and suggest that additional members of this pharmacologically important class await discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Antibiotics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


Dive into the research topics of 'Conserved biosynthetic pathways for phosalacine, bialaphos and newly discovered phosphonic acid natural products'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this