Lauren B Pickens

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States

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Publications (6)45.69 Total impact

  • Peng Wang, Woncheol Kim, Lauren B Pickens, Xue Gao, Yi Tang
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    ABSTRACT: A very accommodating host: Three tetracycline biosynthetic pathways were overexpressed and manipulated in the heterologous host Streptomyces lividans K4-114. Through the inactivation of various genes and characterization of the resulting biosynthetic intermediates, new tetracycline-modifying enzymes were identified.
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition 09/2012; 51(44):11136-40. · 11.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: SsfX3 is a GDSL family acyltransferase that transfers salicylate to the C-4 hydroxyl of a tetracycline intermediate in the penultimate step during biosynthesis of the anticancer natural product SF2575. The C-4 salicylate takes the place of the more common C-4 dimethylamine functionality, making SsfX3 the first acyltransferase identified to act on a tetracycline substrate. The crystal structure of SsfX3 was determined at 2.5 Å, revealing two distinct domains as follows: an N-terminal β-sandwich domain that resembles a carbohydrate-binding module, and a C-terminal catalytic domain that contains the atypical α/β-hydrolase fold found in the GDSL hydrolase family of enzymes. The active site lies at one end of a large open binding pocket, which is spatially defined by structural elements from both the N- and C-terminal domains. Mutational analysis in the putative substrate binding pocket identified residues from both domains that are important for binding the acyl donor and acceptor. Furthermore, removal of the N-terminal carbohydrate-binding module-like domain rendered the stand-alone α/β-hydrolase domain inactive. The additional noncatalytic module is therefore proposed to be required to define the binding pocket and provide sufficient interactions with the spatially extended tetracyclic substrate. SsfX3 was also demonstrated to accept a variety of non-native acyl groups. This relaxed substrate specificity toward the acyl donor allowed the chemoenzymatic biosynthesis of C-4-modified analogs of the immediate precursor to the bioactive SF2575; these were used to assay the structure activity relationships at the C-4 position.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2011; 286(48):41539-51. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Lauren B Pickens, Yi Tang, Yit-Heng Chooi
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    ABSTRACT: Natural products and their derivatives play an important role in modern healthcare as frontline treatments for many diseases and as inspiration for chemically synthesized therapeutics. With advances in sequencing and recombinant DNA technology, many of the biosynthetic pathways responsible for the production of these chemically complex yet valuable compounds have been elucidated. With an ever-expanding toolkit of biosynthetic components, metabolic engineering is an increasingly powerful method to improve natural product titers and generate novel compounds. Heterologous production platforms have enabled access to pathways from difficult to culture strains, systems biology and metabolic modeling tools have resulted in increasing predictive and analytic capabilities, advances in expression systems and regulation have enabled the fine-tuning of pathways for increased efficiency, and characterization of individual pathway components has facilitated the construction of hybrid pathways for the production of new compounds. These advances in the many aspects of metabolic engineering not only have yielded fascinating scientific discoveries but also make it an increasingly viable approach for the optimization of natural product biosynthesis.
    Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 01/2011; 2:211-36. · 7.51 Impact Factor
  • Lauren B Pickens, Yi Tang
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    ABSTRACT: Oxytetracycline (OTC) is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that acts by inhibiting protein synthesis in bacteria. It is an important member of the bacterial aromatic polyketide family, which is a structurally diverse class of natural products. OTC is synthesized by a type II polyketide synthase that generates the poly-beta-ketone backbone through successive decarboxylative condensation of malonyl-CoA extender units, followed by modifications by cyclases, oxygenases, transferases, and additional tailoring enzymes. Genetic and biochemical studies have illuminated most of the steps involved in the biosynthesis of OTC, which is detailed here as a representative case study in type II polyketide biosynthesis.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2010; 285(36):27509-15. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: SF2575 1 is a tetracycline polyketide produced by Streptomyces sp. SF2575 and displays exceptionally potent anticancer activity toward a broad range of cancer cell lines. The structure of SF2575 is characterized by a highly substituted tetracycline aglycon. The modifications include methylation of the C-6 and C-12a hydroxyl groups, acylation of the 4-(S)-hydroxyl with salicylic acid, C-glycosylation of the C-9 of the D-ring with D-olivose and further acylation of the C4'-hydroxyl of D-olivose with the unusual angelic acid. Understanding the biosynthesis of SF2575 can therefore expand the repertoire of enzymes that can modify tetracyclines, and facilitate engineered biosynthesis of SF2575 analogues. In this study, we identified, sequenced, and functionally analyzed the ssf biosynthetic gene cluster which contains 40 putative open reading frames. Genes encoding enzymes that can assemble the tetracycline aglycon, as well as installing these unique structural features, are found in the gene cluster. Biosynthetic intermediates were isolated from the SF2575 culture extract to suggest the order of pendant-group addition is C-9 glycosylation, C-4 salicylation, and O-4' angelylcylation. Using in vitro assays, two enzymes that are responsible for C-4 acylation of salicylic acid were identified. These enzymes include an ATP-dependent salicylyl-CoA ligase SsfL1 and a putative GDSL family acyltransferase SsfX3, both of which were shown to have relaxed substrate specificity toward substituted benzoic acids. Since the salicylic acid moiety is critically important for the anticancer properties of SF2575, verification of the activities of SsfL1 and SsfX3 sets the stage for biosynthetic modification of the C-4 group toward structure-activity relationship studies of SF2575. Using heterologous biosynthesis in Streptomyces lividans, we also determined that biosynthesis of the SF2575 tetracycline aglycon 8 parallels that of oxytetracycline 4 and diverges after the assembly of 4-keto-anhydrotetracycline 51. The minimal ssf polyketide synthase together with the amidotransferase SsfD produced the amidated decaketide backbone that is required for the formation of 2-naphthacenecarboxamide skeleton. Additional enzymes, such as cyclases C-6 methyltransferase and C-4/C-12a dihydroxylase, were functionally reconstituted.
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 11/2009; 131(48):17677-89. · 10.68 Impact Factor
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    Lauren B Pickens, Yi Tang
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    ABSTRACT: Tetracyclines have been important agents in combating infectious disease since their discovery in the mid-20th century. Following widespread use, tetracycline resistance mechanisms emerged and continue to create a need for new derivatives that are active against resistant bacterial strains. Semisynthesis has led to second and third generation tetracycline derivatives with enhanced antibiotic activity and pharmacological properties. Recent advancement in understanding of the tetracycline biosynthetic pathway may open the door to broaden the range of tetracycline derivatives and afford analogs that are difficult to access by synthetic chemistry.
    Metabolic Engineering 11/2008; 11(2):69-75. · 6.86 Impact Factor