Orange, red, yellow: Biosynthesis of azaphilone pigments in Monascus fungi

Wanping Chen (Corresponding Author), Runfa Chen, Qingpei Liu, Yi He, Kun He, Xiaoli Ding, Lijing Kang, Xiaoxiao Guo, Nana Xie, Youxiang Zhou (Corresponding Author), Yuanyuan Lu, Russell J. Cox, István Molnár (Corresponding Author), Mu Li, Yanchun Shao, Fusheng Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

219 Citations (Scopus)


Monascus azaphilone pigments (MonAzPs) are very widely used as food colorants, but their biosynthetic pathway has remained poorly characterized for more than half a century. In this study, the individual steps of MonAzPs biosynthesis in Monascus ruber M7 were elucidated by a combination of targeted gene knockouts, heterologous gene expression, and in vitro chemical and enzymatic reactions. This study describes the first rational engineering of MonAzPs biosynthesis and provides a roadmap for future pathway engineering efforts directed towards the selective production of the most valuable pigments and serves as a model for the biosynthesis of fungal azaphilones in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4917-4925
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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