SURF

Tai Ng

Towards the Biosynthesis of Physostigmine

Streptomyces is a large genus of actinobacteria well known for their secondary metabolism, producing a large array of antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic drugs. The compound of interest in this project is physostigmine, produced by Streptomyces griseofuscus. Physostigmine is a tryptophan-derived alkaloid that reversibly inhibits acetylcholinestrase. It is a candidate drug for treating numerous neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, myasthenia gravis, glaucoma, and orthostatic hypotension. Studying the biosynthesis of physostigmine can provide insight into the biosynthesis of a large family of alkaloids with the unique pyrroloindole skeleton. Furthermore, understanding the key enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis will also allow the engineering of physostigmine-like analogs from modified tryptophan substrates.

Message to Sponsor

I have been working on the project since September of 2012. I feel very proud of the efforts I have put into the project and the results we have obtained. I am very grateful for the stipend, which helps pay for my living expenses this summer and allows me to continue working on this project. Working in a lab this summer helps prepare me for graduate work in the upcoming years. I also have the opportunity to learn more about research in other subject areas this summer. Thanks!
  • Major: Bioengineering, Chemistry
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
  • Mentor: Wenjun Zhang, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering