Synthetic biology of polyketide synthases

Satoshi Yuzawa, Tyler W.H. Backman, Jay D. Keasling, Leonard Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Complex reduced polyketides represent the largest class of natural products that have applications in medicine, agriculture, and animal health. This structurally diverse class of compounds shares a common methodology of biosynthesis employing modular enzyme systems called polyketide synthases (PKSs). The modules are composed of enzymatic domains that share sequence and functional similarity across all known PKSs. We have used the nomenclature of synthetic biology to classify the enzymatic domains and modules as parts and devices, respectively, and have generated detailed lists of both. In addition, we describe the chassis (hosts) that are used to assemble, express, and engineer the parts and devices to produce polyketides. We describe a recently developed software tool to design PKS system and provide an example of its use. Finally, we provide perspectives of what needs to be accomplished to fully realize the potential that synthetic biology approaches bring to this class of molecules.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)621-633
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Biosynthesis
  • Cheminformatics
  • Natural products
  • Novel chemicals
  • Refactoring
  • Streptomyces


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