Function of Microbial Natural Products
Access to hidden microbial natural products
Although several microorganisms can produce specialized metabolites, most of them are still unknown because they are only produced in minute amounts or are not produced at all under lab conditions. Our goal is to discover the corresponding biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) and manipulate them in order to produce these natural products for the elucidation of their structure, ecological function and bioactivity.
Key publication: Bode et al. Angew Chem Int Ed 2019
Regulation of natural product biosynthesis
While the activation of desired BGCs producing natural products can be achieved at high-throughput, the identification of the natural regulation mechanisms is more challenging and requires the combination of omics technologies with different molecular and biochemical methods. A focus of our work are RNA-based regulatory mechanism and we have shown that the well-known RNA-chaperon Hfq together with the sRNA ArcZ plays a key function in regulating natural product biosynthesis in Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus.
Key publication: Neubacher, Tobias, Huber et al. Nat Microbiol 2020
Peptides generated by non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS) are a major class of microbial natural products and therefore we have developed methods to engineer these enzymes. From these efforts we learn how to make new-to-nature natural products that might have superior biological activities but can also use the engineered enzymes to study their ecological function using mass spectrometry and microscopy.
Key publications: Bozhüyük et al. Nat Chem 2018; Bozhüyük, Linck, Tietze, Kranz et al. Nat Chem 2019