Aromatic polyketides represent important members of the family of polyketides, which have displayed a wide assortment of bioactive properties, such as antibacterial, antitumor, and antiviral activities. Bacterial aromatic polyketides are mainly synthesized by type II polyketide synthases (PKSs). Whereas malonyl-CoA is exclusively used as the extender unit, starter units can vary in different aromatic polyketide biosynthetic pathways, leading to a variety of polyketide backbones. Once the polyketide chains are elongated by the minimal PKSs to the full length, the immediate tailoring enzymes including ketoreductases, oxygenases and cyclases will work on the nascent chains to form aromatic structures, which will be further decorated by those late tailoring enzymes such as methyltransferases and glycosyltransferases. The mechanistic studies on the biosynthetic pathways of aromatic polyketides such as oxytetracycline and pradimicin A have been extensively carried out in recent years. Engineered biosynthesis of novel “unnatural” polyketides has been achieved in heterologous hosts such as Streptomyces coelicolor and Escherichia coli. This review covers the most recent advances in aromatic polyketide biosynthesis, which provide new enzymes or methods for building novel polyketide biosynthetic machinery.
Keywords: Biosynthesis, aromatic polyketides, starter units, minimal PKSs, tailoring enzymes, heterologous hosts
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