Two mutants of Aspergillus terreus with either the lovC or lovA genes disrupted were examined for their ability to transform nonaketides into lovastatin 1, a cholesterol-lowering drug. The lovC disruptant was able to efficiently convert dihydromonacolin L 5 or monacolin J 9 into 1, and could also transform desmethylmonacolin J 15 into compactin 3. In contrast, the lovA mutant has an unexpectedly active β-oxidation system and gives only small amounts of 1 upon addition of the immediate precursor 9, with most of the added nonaketide being degraded to heptaketide 22. Similarly, the lovA mutant does not accumulate the polyketide synthase product 5 and rapidly degrades any 5 added as a precursor via two cycles of β-oxidation and hydroxylation at C-6 to give 20. The possible involvement of epoxides 21a and 21b in the biosynthesis of 1 was also examined, but their instability in fermentation media and fungal cells will require purified enzymes to establish their role.
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