Enabling techniques in the search for new antibiotics: Combinatorial biosynthesis of sugar-containing antibiotics

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Graphical abstractNature has a talent for inventing a vast number of natural products, including hybrids generated by blending different scaffolds, resulting in a myriad of bioactive chemical entities. Herein, we review the highlights and recent trends (2010–2016) in the combinatorial biosynthesis of sugar-containing antibiotics where nature’s structural diversification capabilities are exploited to enable the creation of new anti-infective and anti-proliferative drugs. In this review, we describe the modern combinatorial biosynthetic approaches for polyketide synthase-derived complex and aromatic polyketides, non-ribosomal peptide synthetase-directed lipo-/glycopeptides, aminoglycosides, nucleoside antibiotics, and alkaloids, along with their therapeutic potential. Finally, we present the feasible nexus between combinatorial biosynthesis, systems biology, and synthetic biology as a toolbox to provide new antibiotics that will be indispensable in the post-antibiotic era.

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