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Bioengineered. 2012 Sep-Oct;3(5):280-5. doi: 10.4161/bioe.21371. Epub 2012 Aug 15.

Engineering of N-acetylglucosamine metabolism for improved antibiotic production in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) and an unsuspected role of NagA in glucosamine metabolism.


N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), the monomer of chitin and constituent of bacterial peptidoglycan, is a preferred carbon and nitrogen source for streptomycetes. Recent studies have revealed new functions of GlcNAc in nutrient signaling of bacteria. Exposure to GlcNAc activates development and antibiotic production of Streptomyces coelicolor under poor growth conditions (famine) and blocks these processes under rich conditions (feast). Glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN-6P) is a key molecule in this signaling pathway and acts as an allosteric effector of a pleiotropic transcriptional repressor DasR, the regulon of which includes the GlcNAc metabolic enzymes N-actetylglucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcNAc-6P) deacetylase (NagA) and GlcN-6P deaminase (NagB). Intracellular accumulation of GlcNAc-6P and GlcN-6P enhanced production of the pigmented antibiotic actinorhodin. When the nagB mutant was challenged with GlcNAc or GlcN, spontaneous second-site mutations that relieved the toxicity of the accumulated sugar phosphates were obtained. Surprisingly, deletion of nagA also relieved toxicity of GlcN, indicating novel linkage between the GlcN and GlcNAc utilization pathways. The strongly enhanced antibiotic production observed for many suppressor mutants shows the potential of the modulation of GlcNAc and GlcN metabolism as a metabolic engineering tool toward the improvement of antibiotic productivity or even the discovery of novel compounds.

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