Diterpenoid biosynthesis has been extensively studied in plants and fungi, yet cloning and engineering diterpenoid pathways in these organisms remain challenging. Bacteria are emerging as prolific producers of diterpenoid natural products, and bacterial diterpene synthases are poised to make significant contributions to our understanding of terpenoid biosynthesis. Here we will first survey diterpenoid natural products of bacterial origin and briefly review their biosynthesis with emphasis on diterpene synthases (DTSs) that channel geranylgeranyl diphosphate to various diterpenoid scaffolds. We will then highlight differences of DTSs of bacterial and higher organism origins and discuss the challenges in discovering novel bacterial DTSs. We will conclude by discussing new opportunities for DTS mechanistic enzymology and applications of bacterial DTS in biocatalysis and metabolic pathway engineering.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research on discovery, biosynthesis, and metabolic pathway engineering of terpenoid natural products in the Shen lab is supported partly by NIH grants AI079070 and GM086184 . M.J.S. was supported partly by NIH Predoctoral Training grant GM08505 .