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Biosynthesis of the bacterial antibiotic 3,7-dihydroxytropolone through enzymatic salvaging of catabolic shunt products

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The non-benzenoid aromatic tropone ring is a structural motif of numerous microbial and plant natural products with potent bioactivities. In bacteria, tropone biosynthesis involves early steps of the widespread CoA-dependent phenylacetic acid (paa) catabolon, from which a shunt product is sequestered and surprisingly further utilized as a universal precursor for structurally and functionally diverse tropone derivatives such as tropodithietic acid or (hydroxy)tropolones. Here, we elucidate the biosynthesis of the antibiotic 3,7-dihydroxytropolone in Actinobacteria by in vitro pathway reconstitution using paa catabolic enzymes as well as dedicated downstream tailoring enzymes, including a thioesterase (TrlF) and two flavoprotein monooxygenases (TrlCD and TrlE). We furthermore mechanistically and structurally characterize the multifunctional key enzyme TrlE, which mediates an unanticipated ipso-substitution involving a hydroxylation and subsequent decarboxylation of the CoA-freed side chain, followed by ring oxidation to afford tropolone. This study showcases a remarkably efficient strategy for 3,7-dihydroxytropolone biosynthesis and illuminates the functions of the involved biosynthetic enzymes. Read more