Alkyl quinolones (AQs) are multifunctional bacterial secondary metabolites generally known for their antibacterial and algicidal properties. Certain representatives are also employed as signalling molecules of Burkholderia strains and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The marine Gammaproteobacterium Microbulbifer sp. HZ11 harbours an AQ biosynthetic gene cluster with unusual topology but does not produce any AQ‐type metabolites under laboratory conditions. In this study, we demonstrate the potential of strain HZ11 for AQ production by analysing intermediates and key enzymes of the pathway. Moreover, we demonstrate that exogenously added AQs such as 2‐heptyl‐1(H)‐quinolin‐4‐one (referred to as HHQ) or 2‐heptyl‐1‐hydroxyquinolin‐4‐one (referred to as HQNO) are brominated by a vanadium‐dependent haloperoxidase (V‐HPOHZ11), which preferably is active towards AQs with C5–C9 alkyl side chains. Bromination was specific for the third position and led to 3‐bromo‐2‐heptyl‐1(H)‐quinolin‐4‐one (BrHHQ) and 3‐bromo‐2‐heptyl‐1‐hydroxyquinolin‐4‐one (BrHQNO), both of which were less toxic for strain HZ11 than the respective parental compounds. In contrast, BrHQNO showed increased antibiotic activity against Staphylococcus aureus and marine isolates. Therefore, bromination of AQs by V‐HPOHZ11 can have divergent consequences, eliciting a detoxifying effect for strain HZ11 while simultaneously enhancing antibiotic activity against other bacteria.
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