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J Antibiot (Tokyo). 2010 Aug;63(8):477-81. doi: 10.1038/ja.2010.53. Epub 2010 Jun 16.

Rare earth elements activate the secondary metabolite-biosynthetic gene clusters in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2).

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National Food Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Genome sequencing projects have revealed many biosynthesis gene clusters for the production of as-yet unknown secondary metabolites, especially in actinomycetes. Here, we report that the rare earth elements, scandium and/or lanthanum, markedly activate, ranging from 2.5- to 12-fold, the expression of nine genes belonging to nine secondary metabolite-biosynthetic gene clusters of Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) when added to the medium at low concentrations. HPLC analysis of ethyl acetate-extractable metabolites indicated the detectability of several compounds only in the rare earth-treated cultures. This approach should facilitate discovery of new biologically active compounds and the study of secondary metabolite production.

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