University of Cambridge

Department of Biochemistry

Principal contact: Prof. Peter Leadlay FRS
Mail: pfl10{à}
Phone: +49 1223 766041


The Leadlay group is investigating the molecular genetics, regulation, enzymology, chemistry and directed evolution of polyketide antibiotic biosynthesis.

Members of this multidisciplinary group employ wide-ranging techniques in protein chemistry, enzymology, molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, analytical chemistry and synthetic organic chemistry.

RapamycinPolyketides form a large and structurally diverse class of natural product, mainly produced by soil-based bacteria, notably Streptomyces spp. They include clinically useful drugs such as the macrolide antibiotic erythromycin A, the immunosuppressants FK506 and rapamycin as well as antiparasitic and anticancer compounds.

Many polyketides are produced by modular polyketide synthases. An increasing number of the gene clusters encoding these enzymes have been sequenced. By altering the DNA sequence of the genes encoding for the polyketide synthases we can produce polyketides of differing but predicted structure and enable the engineering of novel therapeutic drugs. Such interventions, to harness the cellular machinery for a specific novel purpose, is an important part of the emerging field of Synthetic Biology.