A supplement providing a snapshot of the latest developments in chemical biology
New antibiotics from chlorinated natural products
07 February 2006
Understanding the enzymatic chlorination of aromatic and aliphatic biomolecules could lead to new antibiotics says a microbiologist from Ireland.
- Cormac Murphy
Some chlorine-containing natural products have enhanced antibiotic properties, said Murphy. With more information about the mechanism of enzymatic chlorination, it may be possible to prepare new antibiotic molecules which would otherwise be costly to synthesise using standard chemical reactions. This would involve including halogenase genes in the biosynthetic make-up of antibiotic-producing microorganisms.
One type of halogenase that accounts for the regiospecific addition of chlorine to aromatic compounds is FADH2-dependent. This type of enzyme requires FADH2, a reduced form of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), oxygen and chloride for successful biotransformation. Other families of halogenating enzymes are non-heme FeII alpha-ketoglutarate- and O2-dependent halogenases which have been shown to chlorinate saturated aliphatic compounds.
Knowledge of the enzymatic chlorination mechanism could widen the scope for the biosynthetic reactions in the biotechnology industry. 'Manipulation of biosynthetic gene clusters of antibiotic-producing microorganisms to include halogenase genes offers potential for generating new antibiotic compounds,' said Murphy.