Fungal biosynthesis of sesquiterpene natural products
In their search for new natural products from fungi, Vito Valiante and his team gained insights into the biosynthesis of sesquiterpenes in Aspergillus calidoustus. They investigated Driman-type sesquiterpenes which are widely distributed natural products with a unique bicyclic backbone of 15 C atoms. Many of them exhibit biological activities that make them interesting candidates for drug development. In their most recent paper in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, the scientists of the junior research group Biobricks of Microbial Natural Product Synthesis discovered a drimenol cyclase that was previously only known in plants. By exchanging certain domains with other enzymes, they also succeeded in generating new molecular variants. Detailed knowledge of the biosynthesis of active compounds is valuable for the development of future drugs.