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Spectinomycin is a dioxane-bridged, tricyclic aminoglycoside produced by Streptomyces spectabilis ATCC 27741. While the spe biosynthetic gene cluster for spectinomycin has been reported, the chemistry underlying construction of the dioxane ring is unknown. The twitch radical SAM enzyme SpeY from the spe cluster is shown here to catalyze dehydrogenation of the C2' alcohol of (2'R,3'S)-tetrahydrospectinomycin to yield (3'S)-dihydrospectinomycin as a likely biosynthetic intermediate. This reaction is radical-mediated and initiated via H atom abstraction from C2' of the substrate by the 5'-deoxyadenosyl radical equivalent generated upon reductive cleavage of SAM. Crystallographic analysis of the ternary Michaelis complex places serine-183 adjacent to C2' of the bound substrate opposite C5' of SAM. Mutation of this residue to cysteine converts SpeY to the corresponding C2' epimerase mirroring the opposite phenomenon observed in the homologous twitch radical SAM epimerase HygY from the hygromycin B biosynthetic pathway. Phylogenetic analysis suggests a relatively recent evolutionary branching of putative twitch radical SAM epimerases bearing homologous cysteine residues to generate the SpeY clade of enzymes.


Jiawei Zhang, Xueli Hou, Zhang Chen, Yeonjin Ko, Mark W Ruszczycky, Yutian Chen, Jiahai Zhou, Hung-Wen Liu. Dioxane Bridge Formation during the Biosynthesis of Spectinomycin Involves a Twitch Radical S-Adenosyl Methionine Dehydrogenase That May Have Evolved from an Epimerase. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2022 Jun 08;144(22):9910-9919

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PMID: 35622017

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