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NPRONET - sLoLa

Natural products discovery and bioengineering network (NPRONET) is a newly established network, one of thirteen BBSRC funded Networks in Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) 

 

NPRONET will bring together chemists, biologists, computational scientists and engineers from academia and industry to accelerate the natural product discovery & bioengineering process. This will be beneficial to UK industry and society because secondary metabolites, produced predominantly by microorganisms and plants, have inspired the development of many blockbuster drugs including most of the antibiotics in clinical use. Natural products are also used in agriculture as herbicides, pesticides and fungicides to increase crop yields which can help feed the growing population. The network is timely, not only because of the urgent need for new antibiotics but also because the explosion in genome sequencing is revealing a vast array of new and unexploited biosynthetic gene clusters. Building on the UKs established world leading expertise in biosynthesis & microbial genetics the network aims to:

 

  • Exploit genomics data to discover new natural products and guide the bioengineering of new or existing scaffolds for therapeutic, agricultural & other applications (eg pigments, flavourings and other high value chemicals);

 

  • Integrate systems biology and bioinformatics for the rapid annotation of biosynthetic gene clusters, genome mining and the development of metabolic models that can help guide bioengineering approaches;

 

  • Devise chemical and genetic methods for activating unproductive biosynthetic pathways to provide the quantities of natural products needed for further development. This is essential as the majority of biosynthetic gene clusters are either silent or produce low quantities of the corresponding natural products;

 

  • Utilise the expanding mechanistic and structural knowledge of assembly-line enzymes to guide new strategies for re-programming biosynthetic pathways to increase the structural diversity of natural product scaffolds and deliver focused libraries with improved biological properties;

 

  • Take advantage of emerging synthetic biology methods to develop new platforms for the manufacture of natural products including optimized hosts for heterologous expression;

 

  • Exploit this knowledge and integrated processes to develop more efficient and diverse routes for the production of “non natural” products, fine and commodity chemicals, APIs, and food products.

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