A role for antibiotic biosynthesis monooxygenase domain proteins in fidelity control during aromatic polyketide biosynthesis.

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The formicamycin biosynthetic gene cluster encodes two groups of type 2 polyketide antibiotics: the formicamycins and their biosynthetic precursors the fasamycins, both of which have activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Here, we report the formicapyridines which are encoded by the same gene cluster and are structurally and biosynthetically related to the fasamycins and formicamycins but comprise a rare pyridine moiety. These compounds are trace-level metabolites formed by derailment of the major biosynthetic pathway. Inspired by evolutionary logic we show that rational mutation of a single gene in the biosynthetic gene cluster encoding an antibiotic biosynthesis monooxygenase (ABM) superfamily protein leads to a significant increase both in total formicapyridine production and their enrichment relative to the fasamycins/formicamycins. Our observations broaden the polyketide biosynthetic landscape and identify a non-catalytic role for ABM superfamily proteins in type II polyketide synthase assemblages for maintaining biosynthetic pathway fidelity.