The Natural Drug Factory
Exploring how microbe mega-enzymes synthesize critical chemical compounds – and drugs
Maryam Mahdi | | Quick Read
Researchers are shining a new light on how nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS) work (1). Known for their ability to make “natural product peptides” – small, but potent chemical compounds – these multienzyme nanomachines have been used to develop a variety of drugs, including immunosuppressants and antibacterials.
“NRPS act as machines, with many moving parts and reaction centers that all work together,” says Martin Schmeing, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at McGill University. “They follow an elegant sort of logic in which a subsection called a module facilitates reactions that add building blocks to a growing chemical. The enzyme then passes the (now bigger) chemical to the next module, where the next building block is added, and so on.”
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