Structural Biology of Biosynthetic Enzymes

This group is located at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS)

Natural agents have always been the best source of antibiotics. This is exemplified by success stories such as penicillin, streptomycin, erythromycin and rifamycin. But the potential of natural agents is not being tapped to the fullest extent yet. Often, this is related to the chemical synthesis being difficult and the yields of the purification of the agents from natural sources being low. Consequently, a large number of promising natural substances have been discovered, but were not developed further for clinical application, either because their chemical structure could not be changed sufficiently or because it was impossible to produce sufficient amounts of them.


Selected Publications

Sikandar A, Franz L, Melse O, Antes I, Köhnke J (2019): Thiazoline-Specific Amidohydrolase PurAH Is the Gatekeeper of Bottromycin Biosynthesis. J Am Chem Soc. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b12231

Sikandar A, Cirnski K, Testolin G, Volz C, Brönstrup M, Kalinina O V, Müller R, Köhnke J (2018): Adaptation of a Bacterial Multidrug Resistance System Revealed by the Structure and Function of AlbA. J Am Chem Soc. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b08895

Franz L, Adam S, Santos-Aberturas J, Truman AW, Köhnke J (2017): Macroamidine formation in bottromycins is catalyzed by a divergent YcaO enzyme. J Am Chem Soc. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b09898

Fu, C., Sikandar, A., Donner, J., Zaburannyi, N., Herrmann, J., Reck, M., Wagner-Döbler, I.+, Köhnke J.+ and Müller, R.+ (2017): The natural product carolacton inhibits folate-dependent C1 metabolism by targeting FolD/MTHFD. Nat Comm DOI:10.1038/s41467-017-01671-5

Beshr, G., Sikandar, A., Jemiller, E.M., Klymiuk, N., Hauck, D., Wagner, S., Wolf, E., Köhnke, J.+ and Titz, A.+ (2017) Photorhabdus luminescens lectin A (PllA)-a new probe for detecting α-galactoside-terminating glycoconjugates. J Biol Chem DOI:10.1074/jbc.M117.812792

Full Publicationslist


  • HIPS Infofilm (English)

    Resistance to antibiotics has become one of the major global challenges regarding infectious diseases. This is specifically the issue that is being tackled by the new Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS).

  • Surface of the enzyme PurAH

    The surface of the enzyme PurAH with the two catalytic zinc ions (grey spheres) bound at the active site.

  • 3D model of the enzyme BotH

    In bottromycin, a potential antibiotic, bacteria build up a mirrored amino acid. In a study published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, Jesko Köhnke, head of the junior research group "Structural Biology of Biosynthetic Enzymes" at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), describes the enzyme BotH which is necessary for this.

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