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Mol Microbiol. 1994 Jun;12(6):859-64.

A-factor as a microbial hormone that controls cellular differentiation and secondary metabolism in Streptomyces griseus.

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Department of Agricultural Chemistry, University of Tokyo, Japan.


A-factor, containing a gamma-butyrolactone in its structure, is an autoregulatory factor or a 'microbial hormone' controlling secondary metabolism and cellular differentiation in Streptomyces griseus. A-factor exerts its regulatory role by binding to a specific receptor protein which, in the absence of A-factor, acts as a repressor-type regulator for morphological and physiological differentiation. In the signal relay leading to streptomycin production in S. griseus, the A-factor signal is transferred from the A-factor receptor to the upstream activation sequence of a regulatory gene, strR, in the streptomycin biosynthetic gene cluster via an A-factor-dependent protein that serves as a transcription factor for strR. The StrR protein thus induced appears to activate the transcription of other streptomycin-production genes. The presence of A-factor homologues in a wide variety of Streptomyces species and distantly related bacteria implies the generality of gamma-butyrolactones as chemical cellular signalling molecules in microorganisms.

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