Genes to molecules: the future is now!

WS9326a, a molecule identified in S. calvus from a genome sequence

Is it possible to predict and find a natural product based on a DNA sequence of the producing organism? Since genome sequencing exploded in the early 2000’s, this has been a dream goal of natural product chemists. We teamed up with the Magarvey lab (McMaster University) to use their new Genomes-to-Natural-Products platform (GNP) to link a biosynthetic gene cluster in Streptomcyes calvus to a non-ribosomal peptide. The program accurately predicted the structure of the molecule, as well as some derivatives, then predicted their MS/MS spectra. The spectra can be used like fingerprints to identify molecules in complex mixtures, which allowed us to find the corresponding molecules in cultures of S. calvus. It’s a brave new world! For more details see our paper in Nature Communications.

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