Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Jürgen Rohr


Natural products provide some of the most potent anticancer agents and offer a template for new drug design or improvement with the advantage of an enormous chemical space. The overall goal of this thesis research is to enhance the chemical space of two natural products in order to generate novel drugs with better in vivo bioactivities than the original natural products.

Polycarcin V (PV) is a gilvocarcin-type antitumor agent with similar structure and comparable bioactivity with the principle compound of this group, gilvocarcin V (GV). Modest modifications of the polyketide-derived tetracyclic core of GV had been accomplished, but the most challenging part was to modify the sugar moiety. In order to solve this problem, PV was used as an alternative lead-structure for modification because its sugar moiety offered the possibility of enzymatic O-methylation. We produced four PV derivatives with different methylation patterns for cytotoxicity assays and provided important structure-activity-relationship information.

Mithramycin (MTM) is the most prominent member of the aureolic acid type anticancer agents. Previous work in our laboratory generated three MTM analogues, MTM SA, MTM SK, and MTM SDK by inactivating the mtmW gene. We developed new MTM analogues by coupling many natural and unnatural amino acids to the C-3 side chain of MTM SA via chemical semi-synthesis and successfully made some compounds with both improved bioactivity and in vivo tolerance than MTM. Some of them were consequently identified as promising lead-structures against Ewing’s sarcoma.

The potential of selectively generating novel MTM analogues led us to focus on a key enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway of mithramycin, MtmC. This protein is a bifunctional enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of TDP-D-olivose and TDP-D-mycarose. We clarified its enzymatic mechanisms by X-ray diffraction of several crystal complexes of MtmC with its biologically relevant ligands. Two more important post-PKS tailoring enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of the MTM side chains, MtmW and MtmGIV, are currently under investigation. This would not only give us insight into this biosynthetic pathway but also pave the way to develop potentially useful MTM analogues by engineered enzymes.