Xu Zhengren


Zhengren Xu

Assistant Professor

Research Areas

1. Chemoenzymatic synthesis of natural products

2. Novel enzyme-catalyzed reactions

3. Medicinal chemistry of natural products


Education & Positions

School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University, B.S., 2005.

School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University, M.S., 2007.

School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University, Ph.D., 2011.

Eécole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-2014.

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-2018.

School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University, Assistant Professor, 2018-. 


Research Interests

Our research will focus on understanding how natural products, especially bioactive alkaloids, are made in nature. We have specially interests in those enzymes that can make key C-C bonds in the biosynthesis, and harnessing these reactivities for broader substrates, hence expanding the biocatalytic toolkits for the total synthesis of natural products. We will also study how to make natural product total synthesis more efficient by incorporating the biocatalytic toolkits into the synthetic design.




1. Zheng, X.; Li, Y.; Guan, M.; Wang, L.; Wei, S.; Li, Y.-C.; Chang, C.-Y.; Xu, Z.* Biomimetic total synthesis of the spiroindimicin family of natural products. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2022, 61(38) , e202208802. (contribute equally)

2. Hsu, S.-H.; Zhang, S.; Huang, S.-C.; Wu, T.-K.; Xu, Z.*; Chang, C.-Y.* Characterization of enzymes catalyzing the formation of the nonproteinogenic amino acid L-Dap in capreomycin biosynthesis. Biochemistry 2021, 60 , 77-84.

3. Gao, Z.; Wang, Y.; Song, H.; Xu, Z.*; Jia, Y.* Cascade cyclization reaction initiated by benzylic carbocation of indole: scope and mechanistic insights. Chin. J. Org. Chem. 2021, 41 , 3126-3133.

4. Xu, Z.; Fang, S.-M.; Bakowski, M. A.; Rateb, M. E.; Yang, D.; Zhu, X.; Huang, Y.; Zhao, L.-X.; Jiang, Y.; Duan, Y.; Hull, M. V.; McNamara, C. W.; Shen, B.* Discovery of kirromycins with anti- Wolbachia activity from Streptomyces sp. CB00686. ACS Chem. Biol. 2019, 14 , 1174-1182.(contribute equally)

5. Xu, Z.; Pan, G.; Zhou, H.; Shen, B.* Discovery and characterization of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid synthase of bacterial origin. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140 , 16957-16961.(contribute equally)

6. Xu, Z.*; Wang, Q.; Zhu, J.* Metamorphosis of cycloalkenes for the divergent total synthesis of polycyclic indole alkaloids. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2018, 47 , 7882-7898.

7. Pan, G.; Xu, Z.; Guo, Z.; Hindra; Ma, M.; Yang, D.; Zhou, H.; Gansemans, Y.; Zhu, X.; Huang, Y.; Zhao, L.-X.; Jiang, Y.; Cheng, J.; Nieuwerburgh, F. V.; Suh, J.-W.; Duan, Y.; Shen, B.* Discovery of the leinamycin family of natural products by mining actinobacterial genomes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2017, 114 , E11131-E11140.(contribute equally)

8. Zhang, B.; Xu, Z.; Teng, Q.; Pan, G.; Ma, M.; Shen, B.* A long-range acting dehydratase domain as the missing link for C17-dehydration in iso-migrastatin biosynthesis. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56 , 7247-7251.(contribute equally)

9. Xu, Z.; Bao, X.; Wang, Q.; Zhu, J.* An enantioselective total synthesis of (-)-isoschizogamine. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54 , 14937-14940. (Highlighted: in Synfacts 2016, 12 , 5.) (contribute equally)

10. Tong, S.; Xu, Z.; Mamboury, M.; Wang, Q.; Zhu, J.* Aqueous titanium trichloride-promoted reductive cyclization of o -nitrostyrenes to indoles: development and application to the synthesis of rizatriptan and aspidospermidine. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54 , 11809-11812. (contribute equally)

11. Xu, Z.; Wang, Q.; Zhu, J.* Total syntheses of (-)-mersicarpine, (-)-scholarisine G, (+)-melodinine E, (-)-leuconoxine, (-)-leuconolam, (-)-leuconodine A, (+)-leuconodine F, and (-)-leuconodine C: self-induced diastereomeric anisochronism (SIDA) phenomenon for scholarisine G and leuconodine A and C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137 , 6712-6724.

12. Xu, Z.; Wang, Q.; Zhu, J.* Enantioselective total syntheses of leuconolam-leuconoxine- mersicarpine group monoterpene indole alkaloids. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135 , 19127-19130. (Highlighted: in Synfacts 2014, 10 , 232.)

13. Xu, Z.; Wang, Q.; Zhu, J.* Palladium-catalyzed decarboxylative vinylation of potassium nitrophenyl acetate: application to the total synthesis of (±)-goniomitine. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52 , 3272-3276. (Highlighted: in Synfacts 2013, 9 , 461.; in Organic Chemistry Portal, http://www.organic-chemistry.org/Highlights/2013/25November.shtm and http://www.organic-chemistry.org/Highlights/2014/10March.shtm.)

14. Xu, Z.; Zhang, F.; Zhang, L.; Jia, Y.* Total synthesis of (-)-indolactam V. Org. Biomol. Chem. 2011, 9 , 2512-2517.

15. Xu, Z.; Hu, W.; Liu, Q.; Zhang, L.; Jia, Y.* Total synthesis of clavicipitic acid and aurantioclavine: stereochemistry of clavicipitic acid revisitied. J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, 7626-7635.

16. Xu, Z.; Li, Q.; Zhang, L.; Jia, Y.* Efficient total synthesis of (-)- cis -clavicipitic acid. J. Org. Chem. 2009, 74 , 6859-6862. (With a correction: J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75 , 6316; Highlighted in Organic Chemistry Portal, http://www.organic-chemistry.org/Highlights/2010/21June.shtm.)

17. Xu, Z.; Hu, W.; Zhang, F.; Li, Q.; Lü, Z.; Zhang, L.; Jia, Y.* Palladium-catalyzed indole and azaindole synthesis by direct annulation of electron-poor o -chloroanilines and o -chloroaminopyridines with aldehydes. Synthesis 2008, 3981-3987.

18. Xu, Z.-R.; Chai, X.-Y.; Bai, C.-C.; Ren, H.-Y.; Lu, Y.-N.; Shi, H.-M.; Tu, P.-F.* Xylocosides A-G, phenolic glucosides from the stems of Xylosma controversum . Helv. Chim. Acta 2008, 91 , 1346-1354.

19. Xu, Z.-R.; Lu, Y.-N.; Chai, X.-Y.; Ren, H.-Y.; Tu, P.-F.* Chemical constituents from Xylosma controversum . J. Chin. Pharm. Sci. 2007, 16 , 218-222.