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J Bacteriol. 1993 Apr;175(8):2197-204.

Genetic construction and functional analysis of hybrid polyketide synthases containing heterologous acyl carrier proteins.

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Department of Genetics, John Innes Institute, John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom.


The gene that encodes the acyl carrier protein (ACP) of the actinorhodin polyketide synthase (PKS) of Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) was replaced with homologs from the granaticin, oxytetracycline, tetracenomycin, and putative frenolicin polyketide synthase gene clusters. All of the replacements led to expression of functional synthases, and the recombinants synthesized aromatic polyketides similar in chromatographic properties to actinorhodin or to shunt products produced by mutants defective in the actinorhodin pathway. Some regions within the ACP were also shown to be interchangeable and allow production of a functional hybrid ACP. Structural analysis of the most abundant polyketide product of one of the recombinants by electrospray mass spectrometry suggested that it is identical to mutactin, a previously characterized shunt product of an actVII mutant (deficient in cyclase and dehydrase activities). Quantitative differences in the product profiles of strains that express the various hybrid synthases were observed. These can be explained, at least in part, by differences in ribosome-binding sites upstream of each ACP gene, implying either that the ACP concentration in some strains is rate limiting to overall PKS activity or that the level of ACP expression also influences the expression of another enzyme(s) encoded by a downstream gene(s) in the same operon as the actinorhodin ACP gene. These results reaffirm the idea that construction of hybrid polyketide synthases will be a useful approach for dissecting the molecular basis of the specificity of PKS-catalyzed reactions. However, they also point to the need for reducing the chemical complexity of the approach by minimizing the diversity of polyketide products synthesized in strains that produce recombinant polyketide synthases.

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