Nature is a rich source of bioactive natural products, some of which can damage our health, while others can be used to treat various diseases. Elucidating how these harmful and beneficial natural products are synthesized in organisms will help us understand and treat diseases. In this talk, I will first discuss the biosynthesis of colibactin, a small-molecule genotoxin produced by certain bacterial strains in the human gut, and explain its molecular mechanism leading to colorectal cancer. I will then present my latest work on identifying the biosynthetic pathways of psychoactive natural products in Mitragyna speciosa, a medicinal plant native to southeast Asia. In vitro biosynthesis of mitragynine and its derivatives revealed the mechanism of action of such alkaloids.
Yindi Jiang is currently an Assistant Professor at the Shenzhen Institute of Synthetic Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He received his bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Fudan University in 2008 and his Ph.D. degree in Genetics and Development from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2014. From 2015 to 2021, he worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the laboratory of Prof. Emily Balskus in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University and then in the laboratory of Prof. Sarah O’Connor at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Research in the Jiang lab focuses on elucidating the biosynthetic pathways and biological roles of natural products from the human microbiome and medicinal plants. Over the past five years, he has published in peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature Chemical Biology, and JACS.
Seminar Series by the NYU-ECNU Center for Computational Chemistry at NYU Shanghai