J Am Chem Soc 141(10) , 4355-4364 (Mar 13 2019)
O-Methylation modulates the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) properties of small-molecule natural products, affecting their bioavailability, stability, and binding to targets. Diversity-oriented combinatorial biosynthesis of new chemical entities for drug discovery and optimization of known bioactive scaffolds during drug development both demand efficient O-methyltransferase (OMT) biocatalysts with considerable substrate promiscuity and tunable regioselectivity that can be deployed in a scalable and sustainable manner. Here we demonstrate efficient total biosynthetic and biocatalytic platforms that use a pair of fungal OMTs with orthogonal regiospecificity to produce unnatural O-methylated benzenediol lactone polyketides. We show that rational, structure-guided active-site cavity engineering can reprogram the regioselectivity of these enzymes. We also characterize the interplay of engineered regioselectivity with substrate plasticity. These findings will guide combinatorial biosynthetic tailoring of unnatural products toward the generation of diverse chemical matter for drug discovery and the PK/PD optimization of bioactive scaffolds for drug development.