News of the WeekMicrobiology

Possible New Route to Polyketide Synthesis

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Science  02 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5509, pp. 1683
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5509.1683a

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A class of natural compounds called polyketides has yielded many important therapeutic drugs. But polyketides are difficult to synthesize chemically, and the exotic microbes that produce them naturally can be hard to grow in culture. On page 1790 of this issue, chemical engineers now report a possible way to circumvent these problems. They have engineered the common lab bacterium Escherichia coli to pump out a polyketide at rates potentially useful for industrial drug production. Because E. coli is both easy to grow and amenable to genetic manipulation, the results offer a way of producing natural polyketides in a much more tractable host and also of engineering new ones.