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FEBS J. 2007 Feb;274(4):1110-22. Epub 2007 Jan 25.

Transcriptional regulation of the desferrioxamine gene cluster of Streptomyces coelicolor is mediated by binding of DmdR1 to an iron box in the promoter of the desA gene.

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  • 1Instituto de Biotecnología, INBIOTEC, León, Spain.


Streptomyces coelicolor and Streptomyces pilosus produce desferrioxamine siderophores which are encoded by the desABCD gene cluster. S. pilosus is used for the production of desferrioxamine B which is utilized in human medicine. We report the deletion of the desA gene encoding a lysine decarboxylase in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). The DeltadesA mutant was able to grow on lysine as the only carbon and nitrogen source but its desferrioxamine production was blocked, confirming that the L-lysine decarboxylase encoded by desA is a dedicated enzyme committing L-lysine to desferrioxamine biosynthesis. Production of desferrioxamine was restored by complementation with the whole wild-type desABCD cluster, but not by desA alone, because of a polar effect of the desA gene replacement on expression of the downstream des genes. The transcription pattern of the desABCD cluster in S. coelicolor showed that all four genes were coordinately induced under conditions of iron deprivation. The transcription start point of the desA gene was identified by primer extension analysis at a thymine located 62 nucleotides upstream of the translation start codon. The -10 region of the desA promoter overlaps the 19-nucleotide palindromic iron box sequence known to be involved in iron regulation in Streptomyces. Binding of DmdR1 divalent metal-dependent regulatory protein to the desA promoter region of both S. coelicolor and S. pilosus was shown using electrophoretic mobility-shift assays, validating the conclusion that iron regulation of the desABCD cluster is mediated by the regulatory protein DmdR1. We conclude that the genes involved in desferrioxamine production are under transcriptional control exerted by the DmdR1 regulator in the presence of iron and are expressed under conditions of iron limitation.

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