Cell-Free Exploration of the Natural Product Chemical Space

Jonathan W. Bogart, Maria D. Cabezas, Bastian Vögeli, Derek A. Wong, Ashty S. Karim, Michael C. Jewett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Natural products and secondary metabolites comprise an indispensable resource from living organisms that have transformed areas of medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. Recent advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing and computational analysis suggest that the vast majority of natural products remain undiscovered. To accelerate the natural product discovery pipeline, cell-free metabolic engineering approaches used to develop robust catalytic networks are being repurposed to access new chemical scaffolds, and new enzymes capable of performing diverse chemistries. Such enzymes could serve as flexible biocatalytic tools to further expand the unique chemical space of natural products and secondary metabolites, and provide a more sustainable route to manufacture these molecules. Herein, we highlight select examples of natural product biosynthesis using cell-free systems and propose how cell-free technologies could facilitate our ability to access and modify these structures to transform synthetic and chemical biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-91
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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