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J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 2000 Oct;2(4):565-74.

The ram-dependence of Streptomyces lividans differentiation is bypassed by copper.

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Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands.


The onset of morphological differentiation in Streptomyces lividans is intrinsically delayed in comparison to Streptomyces coelicolor, but can be advanced by adding extra copper to the medium. Copper-specific chelators block aerial hyphae formation in both strains illustrating the crucial role of copper in morphogenesis. The S. coelicolor ram cluster was isolated as a clone that complements the copper-dependent differentiation of S. lividans. The S. lividans ram cluster was cloned and shown to be 99.6% identical to the S. coelicolor clone. The difference in development between S. lividans and S. coelicolor could neither be related to functional differences between the two ram clusters nor to differences in the transcription level. In both strains the low level of ramAB transcription correlated with aerial mycelium formation and was coupled to the upstream ORF ramS. An increased ramAB expression level in S. lividans by the introduction of an extra copy of ram stimulated the development. In S. lividans disruption of ramABR resulted in the inability to produce aerial hyphae. Conversely, the identical mutant of S. coelicolor retained its developmental capacities, indicating the presence of a ram-independent developmental route that is not present or not activated in S. lividans. Aerial hyphae and spore formation in the S. lividans ramABR mutant was restored when grown near wild-type strains, suggesting that the ram gene products are involved in transport of a factor essential for normal development. In addition, an elevated copper concentration in the medium also relieved the developmental block of these mutants. These findings suggest that higher copper concentrations render this ram-associated factor obsolete.

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