Incorporation and modification of fatty acids in cyanobacterial natural products biosynthesis
Pedro N. Leão et al
Fatty acid-derived alkyl chains are often found in natural products, where they can exert a number of different functions, most notably biological membrane interactions. Such alkyl chains are difficult to modify regio- and stereoselectively, since most positions are distant from any directing functional group. Chemical and biochemical diversification of these moieties is therefore a challenge, and most organisms do not modify alkyl moieties to a great extent. Still, one particular group of microorgansims – cyanobacteria – display not only a large number of fatty acid-incorporating natural products, but also modify these to a great extent. Here, we provide an overview of the unique fatty acid metabolism of cyanobacteria in the context of natural products biosynthesis. We cover the diverse range of fatty acid incorporation mechanisms that these organisms use to recruit and commit fatty acids to natural products biosynthetic pathways. A variety of alkyl chain decorations and modifications that are found in cyanobacterial natural products are highlighted, illustrating the rich enzymatic arsenal that these organisms have evolved to diversify fatty acid-derived alkyl chains.