Selected Publications

61. Erik S. Carlson, Emily P. Balskus. “The mysteries of macrocyclic colibactins” Nature Chemistry 2019, 11, 867–869.

60. Sifan Chen, Ayana Henderson, Michael Petriello, Kymberleigh A. Romano, Mary Gearing, Ji Miao, Mareike Schell, Walter J. Sandoval-Espinola Espinola, Jiahui Tao, Bingdong Sha, Mark Graham, Rosanne Crooke, Andre Kleinridders, Emily P. Balskus, Federico E. Rey, Andrew Morris, Sudha B. Biddinger. “Trimethylamine N-Oxide Binds and Activates PERK to Promote Metabolic Dysfunction” Cell Metabolism 2019, In Press.

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59. Jiang, Yindi; Stornetta, Alessia; Villalta, Peter W.; Wilson, Matthew R.; Boudreau, Paul D.; Zha, Li; Balbo, Silvia; Balskus, Emily P. “Reactivity of an unusual amidase may explain colibactin’s DNA cross-linking activity” Journal of the American Chemical Society 2019, 141, 11489–11496.


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58. Maini Rekdal, Vayu; Bess, Elizabeth N.; Bisanz, Jordan E.; Turnbaugh, Peter J.; Balskus, Emily P. “Discovery and inhibition of an interspecies gut bacterial pathway for Levodopa metabolism” Science 2019, 364, eaau6323.

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57. Volpe, Matthew R.; Wilson, Matthew R.; Brotherton, Carolyn A.; Winter, Ethan S.; Johnson, Sheila E.; Balskus, Emily P.In vitro characterization of the colibactin-activating peptidase ClbP enables development of a fluorogenic activity probe” ACS Chemical Biology 2019, 14, 1097–1101.


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56. Wilson, Matthew R.*; Jiang, Yindi*; Villalta, Peter W.; Stornetta, Alessia; Boudreau, Paul D.; Carrá, Andrea; Brennan, Caitlin A.; Chun, Eunyoung; Ngo, Lizzie; Samson, Leona D.; Engelward, Bevin P.; Garrett, Wendy S.; Balbo, Silvia; Balskus, Emily P. “The human gut bacterial genotoxin colibactin alkylates DNA” Science 2019, 363, eaar7785. doi:10.1126/science.aar7785

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55. Ng, Tai L.; Rohac, Roman; Mitchell, Andrew J.; Boal, Amie K.; Balskus, Emily P. “An N-nitrosating metalloenzyme constructs the pharmacophore of streptozotocin” Nature 2019, 566, 94–99. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-0894-z

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54. Schultz, Erica E.*; Braffman, Nathaniel R.*; Luescher, Michael U.; Hager, Harry H.; Balskus, Emily P. “Biocatalytic Friedel–Crafts Alkylation Using a Promiscuous Biosynthetic Enzyme” Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2019, 58, 3151–3155. doi:10.1002/anie.201814016

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53. Peck, Spencer C.; Denger, Karin; Burrichter, Anna; Irwin, Stephania M.; Balskus, Emily P.; Schleheck, David “A glycyl radical enzyme enables hydrogen sulfide production by the human intestinal bacterium Bilophila wadsworthiaProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2019, 116, 3171–3176. doi:10.1073/pnas.1815661116

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52. Martins, Teresa P.; Rouger, Caroline; Glasser, Nathaniel R.; Freitas, Sara; de Fraissinette, Nelly B.; Balskus, Emily P.; Tasdemir, Deniz; Leão, Pedro N. “Chemistry, bioactivity and biosynthesis of cyanobacterial alkylresorcinols” Natural Product Reports 2019, Advance Article. doi:10.1039/C8NP00080H

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51. Orman, Marina; Bodea, Smaranda; Funk, Michael A.; Martínez-del Campo, Ana; Bollenbach, Maud; Drennan, Catherine L.; Balskus, Emily P. “Structure-Guided Identification of a Small Molecule That Inhibits Anaerobic Choline Metabolism by Human Gut Bacteria” Journal of the American Chemical Society 2019, 141, 33–37. doi:10.1021/jacs.8b04883 

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50. Chittim, Carina L.; Martínez del Campo, Ana.; Balskus, Emily P. “Gut bacterial phospholipase Ds support disease-associated metabolism by generating choline” Nature Microbiology 2018, 4, 155–163. doi:10.1038/s41564-018-0294-4

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49. Rajakovich, Lauren J.; Balskus, Emily P. “Metabolic functions of the human gut microbiota: the role of metalloenzymes” Natural Product Reports 2018, 36, 593–625. doi:10.1039/C8NP00074C

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48. Wang, Kwo-Kwang A.; Ng, Tai L.; Wang, Peng; Huang, Zedu; Balskus, Emily P.; van der Donk, Wilfred A. “Glutamic acid is a carrier for hydrazine during the biosyntheses of fosfazinomycin and kinamycin” Nature Communications 2018, 9, 3687. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-06083-7

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47. Levin, Benjamin J.; Balskus, Emily P. “Discovering radical-dependent enzymes in the human gut microbiota” Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 2018, 47, 86–93. doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2018.09.011


46. Waldman, Abraham J.; Balskus, Emily P. "Discovery of a diazo-forming enzyme in cremeomycin biosynthesis" The Journal of Organic Chemistry 201883, 7539–7546. doi:10.1021/acs.joc.8b00367

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45. Koppel, Nitzan; Bisanz, Jordan E.; Pandelia, Maria-Eirini; Turnbaugh, Peter J.*; Balskus, Emily P.* "Discovery and characterization of a prevalent human gut bacterial enzyme sufficient for the inactivation of a family of plant toxins" eLife 20187, e33953. doi:10.7554/eLife.33953.001

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44. Chittim, Carina; Irwin, Stephania M.; Balskus, Emily P. "Deciphering human gut microbiota-nutrient interactions: a role for biochemistry" Biochemistry 2018, 57, 2567–2577. doi:10.1021/acs.biochem.7b01277


43. Maini Rekdal, Vayu; Balskus, Emily P. "Gut Microbiota: Rational Manipulation of Gut Bacterial Metalloenzymes Provides Insights into Dysbiosis and Inflammation" Biochemistry 2018, 57, 2291–2293.  doi:10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00340


42. Schneider, Benjamin A.; Balskus, Emily P. "Discovery of small molecule protease inhibitors by investigating a widespread human gut bacterial biosynthetic pathway" Tetrahedron 2018, 74, 3215–3230. doi:10.1016/j.tet.2018.03.043

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41. Levin, Benjamin J.; Balskus, Emily P. "Characterization of 1,2-Propanediol Dehydratases Reveals Distinct Mechanisms for B12-Dependent and Glycyl Radical Enzymes" Biochemistry 2018, 57, 3222–3226. doi:10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00164

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40. Huang, Yolanda Y.; Martínez-del Campo, Ana; Balskus, Emily P. "Anaerobic 4-hydroxyproline utilization: discovery of a new glycyl radical enzyme in the human gut microbiome uncovers a widespread microbial metabolic activity" Gut Microbes 2018, 0, 1–15. doi:10.1080/19490976.2018.1435244

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39. Waldman, Abraham J.; Balskus, Emily P. "The human microbiota, infectious disease, and global health: challenges and opportunities" ACS Infectious Diseases 2018, 4, 14–26. doi:10.1021/acsinfecdis.7b00232

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38. Kenny, Douglas J.; Balskus, Emily P. "Engineering chemical interactions in microbial communities" Chemical Society Reviews 2018, 47, 1705–1729. doi:10.1039/c7cs00664k

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37. Romano, Kymberleigh A.*; Martínez-del Campo, Ana*; Kasahara, Kazuyuki; Chittim, Carina L.; Vivas, Eugenio I.; Amador-Noguez, Daniel; Balskus, Emily P.; Rey, Federico E. "Metabolic, Epigenetic, and Transgenerational Effects of Gut Bacterial Choline Consumption" Cell Host & Microbe 201722, 279–290. doi:10.1016/j.chom.2017.07.021


36. Zha, Li; Jiang, Yindi; Henke, Matthew T.; Wilson, Matthew R.; Wang, Jennifer X.; Kelleher, Neil L.; Balskus, Emily P. "Colibactin assembly line enzymes use S-adenosylmethionine to build a cyclopropane ring." Nature Chemical Biology 201713, 1063–1065. doi:10.1038/nchembio.2448


35. Nakamura, Hitomi; Schultz, Erica E.; Balskus, Emily P. "A new strategy for aromatic ring alkylation in cylindrocyclophane biosynthesis." Nature Chemical Biology 201713, 916–921. doi:10.1038/nchembio.2421


34. Koppel, Nitzan; Rekdal, Vayu M.; Balskus, Emily P. "Chemical transformations of xenobiotics by the human gut microbiota." Science 2017, 356, eaag2770. doi:10.1126/science.aag2770

33. Wilson, Matthew R.; Zha, Li; Balskus, Emily P. "Natural product discovery from the human microbiome." Journal of Biological Chemistry 2017, 292, 8546–8552. doi:10.1074/jbc.R116.762906


32. Waldman, Abraham J.; Ng, Tai L.; Wang, Peng; Balskus, Emily P. "Heteroatom–Heteroatom Bond Formation in Natural Product Biosynthesis." Chemical Reviews 2017, 117, 5784–5863. doi:10.1021/acs.chemrev.6b00621


31. Wang, Peng; Hong, Gloria J.; Wilson, Matthew R.; Balskus, Emily P. "Production of Stealthin C Involves an S–N-Type Smiles Rearrangement." Journal of the American Chemical Society 2017, 139, 2864–2867. doi:10.1021/jacs.6b10586


30. Levin, Benjamin J.*; Huang, Yolanda Y.*; Peck, Spencer C.; Wei, Yifeng; Martinez-del Campo, Ana; Marks, Jonathan A.; Franzosa, Eric A.; Huttenhower, Curtis; Balskus, Emily P. “A Prominent Glycyl Radical Enzyme in Human Gut Microbiomes Metabolizes trans-4-Hydroxy-L-Proline.” Science 2017, 355, aai8386.  doi:10.1126/science.aai8386


29. Bodea, Smaranda; Funk, Michael A.; Balskus, Emily P.; Drennan, Catherine L. “Molecular Basis of C–N Bond Cleavage by the Glycyl Radical Enzyme Choline Trimethylamine-Lyase.” Cell Chemical Biology 201623,1206–1216.

28. Martinez-del Campo, Ana; Romano, Kymberleigh. A.; Rey, Federico E.; Balskus, Emily P. “The Plot Thickens: Diet Microbe Interactions May Modulate Thrombosis Risk.” Cell Metabolism 2016, 23, 573–575. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.03.017


27. Wallace, Stephen; Balskus, Emily P. “Designer Micelles Accelerate Flux Through Engineered Metabolism in E. coli and Support Biocompatible Chemistry.” Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2016, 55, 6023–6027. doi: 10.1002/anie.201600966


26. Zha, Li; Wilson, Matthew R.; Brotherton, Carolyn A.; Balskus, Emily P. “Characterization of Polyketide Synthase Machinery from the pks Island Facilitates Isolation of a Candidate Precolibactin.” ACS Chemical Biology 201611, 1287–1295. doi:10.1021/acschembio.6b00014


25. Koppel, Nitzan and Balskus, Emily P. “Exploring and Understanding the Biochemical Diversity of the Human Microbiota.” Cell Chemical Biology 2016, 23, 18–30. doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2015.12.008

24. Unified Microbiome Initative Consortuim “A unified initiative to harness Earth's microbiomes.” Science 2015350, 507–508. doi:10.1126/science.aac8480


23. Balskus, Emily P. “Colibactin: Understanding an Elusive Gut Bacterial Genotoxin.” Natural Product Reports Highlight 2015, 32, 1534–1540. doi:10.1039/C5NP00091B

22. Medema, Marnix H. et al. “Minimum Information about a Biosynthetic Gene Cluster.” Nature Chemical Biology 201511, 625–631. doi:10.1038/nchembio.1890

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21. Waldman, Abraham, J.; Pechersky, Yakov; Wang, Peng; Wang, Jennifer X.; Balskus, Emily P. “The Cremeomycin Biosynthetic Gene Cluster Encodes a Pathway for Diazo Formation.” ChemBioChem 201516, 2172-2175. doi:10.1002/cbic.201500407


20. Leão, Pedro N.; Nakamura, Hitomi; Costa, Margarida; Pereira, Alban R.; Martins, Rosário; Vasconcelos, Vitor; Gerwick William H.; Balskus, Emily P. “Biosynthesis-Assisted Structural Elucidation of the Bartolosides, Chlorinated Aromatic Glycolipids from Cyanobacteria.” Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2015, 54, 11063–11067. doi:10.1002/anie.201503186

19. Brotherton, Carolyn A.; Balskus, Emily P. “Shedding Light on Sunscreen Biosynthesis in Zebrafish” eLife 20154, e07961. Insight article. doi:10.7554/eLife.07961


18. Wallace, Stephen; Balskus, Emily P. “Interfacing Microbial Styrene Production with a Biocompatible Cyclopropanation Reaction.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 7106–7109. doi:10.1002/anie.201502185


17. Nakamura, Hitomi; Wang, Jennifer X.; Balskus, Emily P. “Assembly Line Termination in Cylindrocyclophane Biosynthesis: Discovery of an Editing Type II Thioesterase Domain in a Type I Polyketide Synthase.” Chem. Sci. 20156, 3816–3822. doi:10.1039/C4SC03132F


16. Martinez-del Campo, Ana; Craciun, Smaranda; Hamer, Hilary A.; Haiser, Henry J.; Turnbaugh, Peter J.; Balskus, Emily P. “Characterization and Detection of a Widely Distributed Gene Cluster that Predicts Anaerobic Choline Utilization by Human Gut Bacteria.” mBio 20156, e00042-15. doi:10.1128/mBio.00042-15


15. Brotherton, Carolyn A.; Wilson, Matthew; Byrd, G.; Balskus, Emily P. "Isolation of a Metabolite from the pks Island Provides Insights into Colibactin Biosynthesis and Activity." Organic Letters 201517, 1545–1548. doi:10.1021/acs.orglett.5b00432


14. Wallace, Stephen; Schultz, Erica E.; Balskus, Emily P. "Using Non-Enzymatic Chemistry to Influence Microbial Metabolism." Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 201525, 71–79. doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2014.12.024

13. Balskus, Emily P. "Sponge Symbionts Play Defense." Nature Chemical Biology 201410, 611–612. News and viewsdoi:10.1038/nchembio.1588


12. Sirasani, Gopal; Tong, Liuchuan; Balskus, Emily P. "A Biocompatible Alkene Hydrogenation Merges Organic Synthesis with Microbial Metabolism." Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2014, 53, 7785–7786. Chosen as a Research Highlight in Nature 2014, 510, 447. doi:10.1002/anie.201403148


11. Craciun, Smaranda; Marks, Jonathan A.; Balskus, Emily P. “Characterization of Choline Trimethylamine-Lyase Expands the Chemistry of Glycyl Radical Enzymes.” ACS Chemical Biology 20149, 1408–1413. doi:10.1021/cb500113p


10. Wallace, Stephen; Balskus, Emily P. "Opportunities for Merging Chemical and Biological Synthesis." Current Opinion in Biotechnology 201430, 1–8. doi:10.1016/j.copbio.2014.03.006


9. Janso, Jeffrey E.; Haltli, Brad A.; Eustáquio, Alessandra S.; Kulowski, Kerry; Waldman, Abraham J.; Zha, Li; Nakamura, Hitomi; Bernan, Valerie S.; He, Haiyin; Carter, Guy T.; Koehn, Frank E.; Balskus, Emily P. "Discovery of the Lomaiviticin Biosynthetic Gene Cluster in Salinispora pacifica." Tetrahedron 201470, 4156–4164. Part of a Symposium-in-Print to honor Prof. Sarah Reisman. doi:10.1016/j.tet.2014.03.009


8. Haiser, Henry J.; Seim, Kristen L.; Balskus, Emily P.; Turnbaugh, Peter J. "Mechanistic Insight into Digoxin Inactivation by Eggerthella lenta Augments Our Understanding of its Pharmacokinetics." Gut Microbes 20145, 233–238. doi:10.4161/gmic.27915


7. Waldman, A.; Balskus, Emily P. "Lomaiviticin Biosynthesis Employs a New Strategy for Starter Unit Generation." Organic Letters 201416, 640–643. doi:10.1021/ol403714g


6. Lee, Yunmi; Umeano, Afoma; Balskus, Emily P. "Rescuing Auxotrophic Microorganisms with Nonenzymatic Chemistry." Angewandte Chemie International Edition 201353, 11800–11803Selected as a Very Important Paper (VIP). doi:10.1002/anie.201307033

5. Haiser, Henry J.; Gootenberg, David B.; Chatman, Kelly; Sirasani, Gopal; Balskus, Emily P.; Turnbaugh, Peter J. “Predicting and Manipulating Cardiac Drug Inactivation by the Human Gut Microbe Eggerthella lenta.” Science 2013341, 295–298. doi:10.1126/science.1235872


4. Nakamura, Hitomi; Balskus, Emily P. “Using Chemical Knowledge to Uncover New Biological Function: Discovery of the Cylindrocyclophane Biosynthetic Pathway.” Synlett201324, 1464–1470. Invited commentarydoi:10.1055/s-0033-1338879


3. Brotherton, Carolyn A.; Balskus, Emily P. “A Prodrug Mechanism is Involved in Colibactin Biosynthesis and Cytotoxicity.” Journal of the American Chemical Society2013135, 3359–3362. doi:10.1021/ja312154m


2. Craciun, Smaranda; Balskus, Emily P. “Microbial Conversion of Choline to Trimethylamine Requires a Glycyl Radical Enzyme.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2012109, 21307–21312. doi:10.1073/pnas.1215689109


1. Nakamura, Hitomi; Hamer, Hilary A.; Sirasani, Gopal; Balskus, Emily P. “Cylindrocyclophane Biosynthesis Involves Functionalization of an Unactivated Carbon Center.” Journal of the American Chemical Society 2012134, 18518–18521. doi:10.1021/ja308318p

Postdoctoral Work

Balskus, Emily P.; Case, Rebecca J.; Walsh, Christopher T. “The Biosynthesis of Cyanobacterial Sunscreen Scytonemin in Microbial Mat Communities.” FEMS Microbiology Ecology 201177, 322–332. doi:

Balskus, Emily P.; Walsh, Christopher T. “The Genetic and Molecular Basis for Sunscreen Biosynthesis in Cyanobacteria.” Science 2010329, 1653–1656.  Highlighted as a Science Express article, in The New Scientist online, and in Chemical & Engineering News 2010, 88, 59. doi:10.1126/science.1193637

Balskus, Emily P.; Walsh, Christopher T. “An Enzymatic Cyclopentyl[b]indole Formation Involved in Scytonemin Biosynthesis.” Journal of the American Chemical Society 2009131, 14648–14649. doi:10.1021/ja906752u

Balskus, Emily P.; Walsh, Christopher T. “Investigating the Initial Steps in the Biosynthesis of Cyanobacterial Sunscreen Scytonemin.” Journal of the American Chemical Society 2008130, 15260–15261. doi:10.1021/ja807192u

Graduate Work

Groll, Michael; Balskus, Emily P.; Jacobsen, Eric N. “Structural Analysis of Spiro beta-Lactone Proteasome Inhibitors.” Journal of the American Chemical Society 2008130, 14981­–14983. doi:10.1021/ja806059t

Balskus, Emily P.; Jacobsen, Eric N. “Asymmetric Catalysis of the Transannular Diels-Alder Reaction.” Science 2007317, 1736–1740. Highlighted in Chemistry World 2007, 4, 33 and Chemical & Engineering News 2007, 85, 17. doi:10.1126/science.1146939

Balskus, Emily P.; Jacobsen, Eric N. “Development of alpha,beta-Unsaturated, beta-Silyl Imide Substrates for Enantioselective Conjugate Additions: Application to the Total Synthesis of (+)-Lactacystin and the Discovery of a New Proteasome Inhibitor.” Journal of the American Chemical Society 2006128, 6810–6811. doi:10.1021/ja061970a