SERGEY B. ZOTCHEV
Department of Biotechnology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Antibiotics are synthesized by many bacterial, fungal, plant, and animal species as secondary metabolites not required for normal growth of the producing organisms. Medical usefulness of some antibiotics in treatment of infections and cancer prompted investigations into their biosynthesis, which have revealed great complexity and variability of enzymes and reactions involved. Although antibiotics are represented by compounds that belong to diverse chemical classes, some common themes are observed in their biosynthesis. Those themes comprise assembly of antibiotic scaffolds from activated precursors that originate from primary metabolism, followed by modification of the scaffolds with different chemical moieties. In this review, generalized schemes of antibiotic biosynthesis are discussed, along with the common enzymology, genetics, and methods used for studying antibiotic biosynthesis pathways.
Compounds with antibiotic activity, that is, those which inhibit the growth or kill other living organisms, are synthesized by many microbial, plant, and some animal species. The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 has opened a new era in human history. This antibacterial compound synthesized by a fungus Penicillium notatum, Penicillium chrysogenum, and several other fungi has been found to be active against a wide range of bacteria, and it was introduced ...