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Publication - Dr Marc Van der Kamp

    The predominance of nucleotidyl activation in bacterial phosphonate biosynthesis


    Rice, K, Batul, K, Whiteside, J, Kelso, J, Papinski, M, Schmidt, E, Pratasouskaya, A, Wang, D, Sullivan, R, Bartlett, C, Weadge, J, Kamp, MVd, Moreno-Hagelsieb, G, Suits, M & Horsman, G, 2019, ‘The predominance of nucleotidyl activation in bacterial phosphonate biosynthesis’. Nature Communications, vol 10.


    Phosphonates are rare and unusually bioactive natural products. However, most bacterial phosphonate biosynthetic capacity is dedicated to tailoring cell surfaces with molecules like 2-aminoethylphosphonate (AEP). Although phosphoenolpyruvate mutase (Ppm)-catalyzed installation of C-P bonds is known, subsequent phosphonyl tailoring (Pnt) pathway steps remain enigmatic. Here we identify nucleotidyltransferases in over two-thirds of phosphonate biosynthetic gene clusters, including direct fusions to ~60% of Ppm enzymes. We characterize two putative phosphonyl tailoring cytidylyltransferases (PntCs) that prefer AEP over phosphocholine (P-Cho) – a similar substrate used by the related enzyme LicC, which is a virulence factor in Streptococcus pneumoniae. PntC structural analyses reveal steric discrimination against phosphocholine. These findings highlight nucleotidyl activation as a predominant chemical logic in phosphonate biosynthesis and set the stage for probing diverse phosphonyl tailoring pathways.

    Full details in the University publications repository