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Microbiology. 2008 Mar;154(Pt 3):744-55. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2007/011890-0.

Streptomyces clavuligerus relA-null mutants overproduce clavulanic acid and cephamycin C: negative regulation of secondary metabolism by (p)ppGpp.

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Area de Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales, Universidad de León, Campus de Vegazana s/n, 24071 León, Spain.


The (p)ppGpp synthetase gene, relA, of Streptomyces clavuligerus was cloned, sequenced and shown to be located in a genomic region that is highly conserved in other Streptomyces species. relA-disrupted and relA-deleted mutants of S. clavuligerus were constructed, and both were unable to form aerial mycelium or to sporulate, but regained these abilities when complemented with wild-type relA. Neither ppGpp nor pppGpp was detected in the S. clavuligerus relA-deletion mutant. In contrast to another study, clavulanic acid and cephamycin C production increased markedly in the mutants compared to the wild-type strain; clavulanic acid production increased three- to fourfold, while that of cephamycin C increased about 2.5-fold. Complementation of the relA-null mutants with wild-type relA decreased antibiotic yields to approximately wild-type levels. Consistent with these observations, transcription of genes involved in clavulanic acid (ceaS2) or cephamycin C (cefD) production increased dramatically in the relA-deleted mutant when compared to the wild-type strain. These results are entirely consistent with the growth-associated production of both cephamycin C and clavulanic acid, and demonstrate, apparently for the first time, negative regulation of secondary metabolite biosynthesis by (p)ppGpp in a Streptomyces species of industrial interest.

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