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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 12;105(32):11346-51. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0803622105. Epub 2008 Aug 6.

A key developmental regulator controls the synthesis of the antibiotic erythromycin in Saccharopolyspora erythraea.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Saccharopolyspora erythraea makes erythromycin, an antibiotic commonly used in human medicine. Unusually, the erythromycin biosynthetic (ery) cluster lacks a pathway-specific regulatory gene. We isolated a transcriptional regulator of the ery biosynthetic genes from S. erythraea and found that this protein appears to directly link morphological changes caused by impending starvation to the synthesis of a molecule that kills other bacteria, i.e., erythromycin. DNA binding assays, liquid and affinity chromatography, MALDI-MS analysis, and de novo sequencing identified this protein (M(r) = 18 kDa) as the S. erythraea ortholog of BldD, a key regulator of development in Streptomyces coelicolor. Recombinant S. erythraea BldD bound to all five regions containing promoters in the ery cluster as well as to its own promoter, the latter with an order-of-magnitude stronger than to the ery promoters. Deletion of bldD in S. erythraea decreased the erythromycin titer in a liquid culture 7-fold and blocked differentiation on a solid medium. Moreover, an industrial strain of S. erythraea with a higher titer of erythromycin expressed more BldD than a wild-type strain during erythromycin synthesis. Together, these results suggest that BldD concurrently regulates the synthesis of erythromycin and morphological differentiation. The ery genes are the first direct targets of a BldD ortholog to be identified that are positively regulated.

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