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The focus of the work of the Keasling Laboratory in JBEI is to produce advanced biofuels and bioproducts using polyketide synthases (PKSs). PKSs are responsible for synthesis of countless natural products that have found use as human therapeutics (e.g., antibiotics, anticancer, etc.). PKSs and their relatives, the non-ribosomal peptide synthases (NRPSs), have incredible chemical flexibility. What’s more, the sequence of the subunits in the PKS/NRPS can be directly mapped onto the resulting chemical that they produce, and parts of PKSs and NRPSs can be recombined into unnatural enzymes that will produce different (unnatural) chemicals. The Keasling Laboratory in JBEI is recombining PKSs/NRPSs to produce chemicals that might otherwise be produced from petroleum (e.g., hydrocarbon fuels, adipic acid, etc.) as well as chemicals that could never be produced from petroleum using chemistry that is available today. Examples of work in the Keasling Laboratory’s efforts in JBEI include:

  • development and optimization of hybrid PKSs/NRPSs to produce a variety of fuels and chemicals,
  • development of pathways to precursors that will feed the hybrid PKSs/NRPSs to produce the desired products and
  • expression of the engineered PKSs/NRPSs and precursor pathways in JBEI hosts in order to produce these molecules from lignocellulosic biomass.