CSB PKS research block

How microorganisms manufacture drugs

ANN ARBOR, June 18 -- Researchers at the University of Michigan have obtained for the first time three-dimensional snapshots of the “assembly line” within microorganisms that naturally produces antibiotics and other drugs. Understanding the complete structure and movement within the molecular factory gives investigators a solid blueprint for redesigning the microbial assembly line to produce novel drugs of high medicinal value.

In a pair of articles published in Nature on June 18, Georgios Skiniotis, David Sherman and Janet Smith of the Life Sciences Institute and Kristina Håkansson of the Department of Chemistry describe the structure of a central enzyme in the assembly process that creates polyketides, a broad class of diverse and bioactive chemical compounds that comprise some of the most important antibiotics, antifungal agents, cancer chemotherapeutics and immunomodulators in wide clinical use.

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