J Am Chem Soc. 2021 Dec 9. doi: 10.1021/jacs.1c11548. Online ahead of print.
Talaromyolides (1–6) are a group of unusual 6/6/6/6/6/6 hexacyclic meroterpenoids with (3R)-6-hydroxymellein and 4,5-seco-drimane substructures, isolated from the marine fungus Talaromyces purpureogenus. We have identified the biosynthetic gene cluster tlxA-J by heterologous expression in Aspergillus, in vitro enzyme assays, and CRISPR-Cas9-based gene inactivation. Remarkably, the heterodimer of non-heme iron (NHI) enzymes, TlxJ-TlxI, catalyzes three steps of oxidation including a key reaction, hydroxylation at C-5 and C-9 of 12, the intermediate with 3-ketohydroxydrimane scaffold, to facilitate a retro-aldol reaction, leading to the construction of the 4,5-secodrimane skeleton and characteristic ketal scaffold of 1–6. The products of TlxJ-TlxI, 1 and 4, were further hydroxylated at C-4’β by another NHI heterodimer, TlxA-TlxC, and acetylated by TlxB to yield the final products, 3 and 6. The X-ray structural analysis coupled with site-directed mutagenesis provided insights into the heterodimer TlxJ-TlxI formation and its catalysis. This is the first report to show that two NHI proteins form a heterodimer for catalysis and utilizes a novel methodology to create functional oxygenase structures in secondary metabolite biosynthesis.