Genome mining and biosynthesis of kitacinnamycins as a STING activator†
Cinnamoyl-containing nonribosomal peptides (CCNPs) are a small group of secondary metabolites with potent biological activities produced by actinobacteria. Two remarkable features in the biosynthesis of CCNPs include the nonribosomal peptide synthases (NRPSs) for assembly of the depsipeptide backbone and the type II polyketide synthases (PKSs) for N-terminal cinnamoyl moiety construction. Here, we present a genome mining approach targeting both NRPS and type II PKS for discovery of new CCNPs, which led to the identification of 51 putative CCNP gene clusters from public bacterial genome databases. After strain prioritization, a novel class of CCNP-type glycopeptides named kitacinnamycins, one of which showing potent activation ability towards the stimulator of interferon genes (STING) protein, was identified. Bioinformatic, genetic and biochemical analysis revealed the use of the NRPS assembly line to form the macrocyclic peptide backbone, followed by a P450 monooxygenase to generate terminal oxidized groups. A glycosyltransferase with relatively broad substrate specificity transfers sugars to the newly generated OH/COOH group. The protein crystallographic study further provided structural insights into this glycosylation. Our results not only demonstrated the feasibility of genome mining and strain prioritization for the discovery of new bioactive natural products but also disclosed the biosynthetic pathway for kitacinnamycins.