Accelerating the discovery of alkyl halide-derived natural products using halide depletion

Nathaniel R. Glasser, Dongtao Cui, Douglas D. Risser, C. Denise Okafor, Emily P. Balskus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Even in the genomic era, microbial natural product discovery workflows can be laborious and limited in their ability to target molecules with specific structural features. Here we leverage an understanding of biosynthesis to develop a workflow that targets the discovery of alkyl halide-derived natural products by depleting halide anions, a key biosynthetic substrate for enzymatic halogenation, from microbial growth media. By comparing the metabolomes of bacterial cultures grown in halide-replete and deficient media, we rapidly discovered the nostochlorosides, the products of an orphan halogenase-encoding gene cluster from Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133. We further found that these products, a family of unusual chlorinated glycolipids featuring the rare sugar gulose, are polymerized via an unprecedented enzymatic etherification reaction. Together, our results highlight the power of leveraging an understanding of biosynthetic logic to streamline natural product discovery. (Figure presented.)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalNature Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering

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