News & Events

Michael Burkart, Ph.D.

Posted on September 7, 2018


Date - September 7, 2018
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Dr. Michael Burkart
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of California San Diego
Talk Title: Chemical Biology of Natural Product Biosynthesis – Fatty Acids and Polyketides


Natural product chemists have long dreamed about genetically designing and programming small molecule biosynthesis in laboratory organisms, which could be used as factories for the synthesis of novel molecules; but has become clear that a more fundamental understanding of these pathways will be the key to the long-term goals of controlling their biosynthesis. For modular biosynthetic pathways such as fatty acid synthase (FAS), polyketide synthase (PKS), non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS), there is a newfound appreciation and focus on protein-protein interactions that are critical to the orchestration of all carrier protein dependent biosynthetic pathways, yet the details of these essential phenomena remain mostly uncharacterized. In order to investigate protein-protein, we have developed a suite of tools to modify carrier proteins with substrate analogs and reactive probes. These conjugates are used to study protein activity, structure and interaction using a variety of biophysical methods. We have used these tools to capture both the dynamic and static interactions between carrier proteins and catalytic partners in multiple biosynthetic systems to learn about the mechanisms of enzyme processivity, substrate binding and protein-protein interactions. These phenomena are key to understanding similar modular pathways.