Induction of antimicrobial activities in heterologous streptomycetes using alleles of the Streptomyces coelicolor gene absA1 Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The bacterial genus Streptomyces is endowed with a remarkable secondary metabolism that generates an enormous number of bioactive small molecules. Many of these genetically encoded small molecules are used as antibiotics, anticancer agents and as other clinically relevant therapeutics. The rise of resistant pathogens has led to calls for renewed efforts to identify antimicrobial activities, including expanded screening of streptomycetes. Indeed, it is known that most strains encode >20 secondary metabolites and that many, perhaps most of these, have not been considered for their possible therapeutic use. One roadblock is that many strains do not express their secondary metabolic gene clusters efficiently under laboratory conditions. As one approach to this problem, we have used alleles of a pleiotropic regulator of secondary metabolism from Streptomyces coelicolor to activate secondary biosynthetic gene clusters in heterologous streptomycetes. In one case, we demonstrate the activation of pulvomycin production in S. flavopersicus, a metabolite not previously attributed to this species. We find that the absA1-engineered strains produced sufficient material for purification and characterization. As a result, we identified new, broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities for pulvomycin, including a potent antimicrobial activity against highly antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens.


  • McKenzie, Nancy L
  • Thaker, Maulik
  • Koteva, Kalinka
  • Hughes, Donald W
  • Wright, Gerard
  • Nodwell, Justin R

publication date

  • April 2010