Interdisciplinary tools to discover and apply natural product biosynthesis

The McKinnie lab studies biologically significant natural products, how their unique chemical structures impart their respective activities, and how they are chemically and biochemically assembled. Merging synthetic organic chemistry with enzyme biochemistry and microbial genetics, we aim to explore the role of enzymology in establishing the chemical complexity in natural product biosynthesis.

McKinnie lab members aim to identify, isolate and interrogate diverse enzymes that perform interesting chemical transformations, while utilizing the synthetic and analytical chemistry skill sets necessary to fully characterize them. High priority will be given to enzyme reactions that generate significant chemical complexity in one step that would present challenges to reproduce in a round-bottomed flask. This focus bypasses multiple costly chemical steps and can facilitate highly regio-, chemo- and enantioselective reactions in a protecting-group free and biocatalytic manner to rapidly, efficiently, and economically produce natural products and/or their analogs. As natural products and their derivatives still represent the majority of approved pharmaceuticals, this research platform will expand our knowledge of basic biochemical reactions while applying them in clinically and industry-relevant directions.

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