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Journal Article

Efficient nonenzymatic cyclization and domain shuffling drive pyrrolopyrazine diversity from truncated variants of a fungal NRPS

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Berry, D., Mace, W., Grage, K., Wesche, F., Gore, S., Schardl, C. L., et al. (2019). Efficient nonenzymatic cyclization and domain shuffling drive pyrrolopyrazine diversity from truncated variants of a fungal NRPS. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 116(51), 25614-25623. doi:10.1073/pnas.1913080116.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-0598-5
Nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) generate the core peptide scaffolds of many natural products. These include small cyclic dipeptides such as the insect feeding deterrent peramine, which is a pyrrolopyrazine (PPZ) produced by grass-endophytic Epichloe fungi. Biosynthesis of peramine is catalyzed by the 2-module NRPS, PpzA-1, which has a C-terminal reductase (R) domain that is required for reductive release and cyclization of the NRPS-tethered dipeptidyl-thioester intermediate. However, some PpzA variants lack this R domain due to insertion of a transposable element into the 3' end of ppzA. We demonstrate here that these truncated PpzA variants utilize nonenzymatic cyclization of the dipeptidyl thioester to a 2,5-diketopiperazine (DKP) to synthesize a range of novel PPZ products. Truncation of the R domain is sufficient to subfunctionalize PpzA-1 into a dedicated DKP synthetase, exemplified by the truncated variant, PpzA-2, which has also evolved altered substrate specificity and reduced N-methyltransferase activity relative to PpzA-1. Further allelic diversity has been generated by recombination-mediated domain shuffling between ppzA-1 and ppzA-2, resulting in the ppzA-3 and ppzA-4 alleles, each of which encodes synthesis of a unique PPZ metabolite. This research establishes that efficient NRPS-catalyzed DKP biosynthesis can occur in vivo through nonenzymatic dipeptidyl cyclization and presents a remarkably clean example of NRPS evolution through recombinant exchange of functionally divergent domains. This work highlights that allelic variants of a single NRPS can result in a surprising level of secondary metabolite diversity comparable to that observed for some gene clusters.