Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Jürgen Rohr

Second Advisor

Dr. Kyung Bo Kim


Gilvocarcin V (GV) belongs to the angucycline class of antibiotics that possesses remarkable anticancer and antibacterial activities with low toxicity. Gilvocarcin exhibits its light induced anticancer activity by mediating crosslinking between DNA and histone H3. When photo-activated by near-UV light, the C8 vinyl group forms a [2+2] cycloadduct with thymine residues of double stranded DNA. D-fucofuranose is considered essential for histone H3 interactions. However, the poor water solubility has rendered it difficult to develop gilvocarcin as a drug. We aim to design novel gilvocarcin analogues with improved pharmaceutical properties through chemo-enzymatic synthesis and mutasynthesis. Previous studies have characterized many biosynthetic genes encoding the gilvocarcin biosynthetic skeleton. Despite these previous findings the exact functions of many other key genes are yet to be fully understood. Prior gene inactivation and cross-feeding experiments have revealed that the first isolable tetracyclic aromatic product undergoes a series of steps involving C–C bond cleavage followed by two O-methylations, a penultimate C-glycosylation and final lactone formation in order to fully develop the gilvocarcin structure.

To provide a deeper understanding of these complex biochemical transformations, three specific aims were devised: 1) synthesis of the proposed intermediate and in vitro enzyme reactions revealed GilMT and GilM’s roles in gilvocaric biosynthesis; 2) utilizing in vitro studies the enzyme responsible for the C–C bond cleavage and its substrate were determined; 3) a small series of structural analogues of the intermediate from the gilvocarcin pathway was generated via chemical synthesis and fed to the mixture of the enzymes, GilMT and GilM. These reaction mixtures were then analyzed to establish the diversity of substrates tolerated by the enzymes.