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Issue 10, 2018
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The architectures of iterative type I PKS and FAS

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Covering: up to mid of 2018

Type I fatty acid synthases (FASs) are giant multienzymes catalyzing all steps of the biosynthesis of fatty acids from acetyl- and malonyl-CoA by iterative precursor extension. Two strikingly different architectures of FAS evolved in yeast (as well as in other fungi and some bacteria) and metazoans. Yeast-type FAS (yFAS) assembles into a barrel-shaped structure of more than 2 MDa molecular weight. Catalytic domains of yFAS are embedded in an extensive scaffolding matrix and arranged around two enclosed reaction chambers. Metazoan FAS (mFAS) is a 540 kDa X-shaped dimer, with lateral reaction clefts, minimal scaffolding and pronounced conformational variability. All naturally occurring yFAS are strictly specialized for the production of saturated fatty acids. The yFAS architecture is not used for the biosynthesis of any other secondary metabolite. On the contrary, mFAS is related at the domain organization level to major classes of polyketide synthases (PKSs). PKSs produce a variety of complex and potent secondary metabolites; they either act iteratively (iPKS), or are linked via directed substrate transfer into modular assembly lines (modPKSs). Here, we review the architectures of yFAS, mFAS, and iPKSs. We rationalize the evolution of the yFAS assembly, and provide examples for re-engineering of yFAS. Recent studies have provided novel insights into the organization of iPKS. A hybrid crystallographic model of a mycocerosic acid synthase-like Pks5 yielded a comprehensive visualization of the organization and dynamics of fully-reducing iPKS. Deconstruction experiments, structural and functional studies of specialized enzymatic domains, such as the product template (PT) and the starter-unit acyltransferase (SAT) domain have revealed functional principles of non-reducing iterative PKS (NR-PKSs). Most recently, a six-domain loading region of an NR-PKS has been visualized at high-resolution together with cryo-EM studies of a trapped loading intermediate. Altogether, these data reveal the related, yet divergent architectures of mFAS, iPKS and also modPKSs. The new insights highlight extensive dynamics, and conformational coupling as key features of mFAS and iPKS and are an important step towards collection of a comprehensive series of snapshots of PKS action.

Graphical abstract: The architectures of iterative type I PKS and FAS

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Article information

25 Apr 2018
First published
23 Aug 2018

This article is Open Access

Nat. Prod. Rep., 2018,35, 1046-1069
Article type
Review Article

The architectures of iterative type I PKS and FAS

D. A. Herbst, C. A. Townsend and T. Maier, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2018, 35, 1046
DOI: 10.1039/C8NP00039E

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