The biosynthesis of virginiamycin S₁

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The biosynthesis of virginiamycin S₁, a macrocyclic peptidolactone antibiotic, was studied by growing a strain of Streptomyces virginiae in a complex medium and observing the incorporation of radiolabeled compounds into the antibiotic. These studies have established several of the biosynthetic precursors of virginiamycin S₁.

L-(U-14C)-Proline and L-(U-14C)-threonine were effectively incorporated into the respective amino acid components in the antibiotic. N-Methyl-L-phenylalanine was shown to arise from L-(U-14C)-phenylalanine and L-(methyl-14C)-methionine. L-(U-14C)-Phenylalanine was also efficiently incorporated into L-phenylglycine.

The origin of the remaining three components was less clear. A small amount of L-(U-14C)-threonine was observed in D-α-aminobutyric acid. A biosynthetic pathway is known between these two amino acids which suggests that L-threonine may be the biosynthetic precursor of D-α-aminobutyric acid. Both L-(U-14C)-aspartic acid and L-(U-14C)-lysine were incorporated into 4-oxo-L-pipecolic acid and 3-hydroxypicolinic acid. A biosynthetic pathway was hypothesized to explain these results.