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MBio. 2019 Aug 13;10(4). pii: e01230-19. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01230-19.

A Single Biosynthetic Gene Cluster Is Responsible for the Production of Bagremycin Antibiotics and Ferroverdin Iron Chelators.

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InBioS-Centre for Protein Engineering, Institut de Chimie B6a, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.
MolSys Research Unit, Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.
Molecular Biotechnology, Institute of Biology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.
InBioS-Centre for Protein Engineering, Institut de Chimie B6a, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium


Biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) are organized groups of genes involved in the production of specialized metabolites. Typically, one BGC is responsible for the production of one or several similar compounds with bioactivities that usually only vary in terms of strength and/or specificity. Here we show that the previously described ferroverdins and bagremycins, which are families of metabolites with different bioactivities, are produced from the same BGC, whereby the fate of the biosynthetic pathway depends on iron availability. Under conditions of iron depletion, the monomeric bagremycins are formed, representing amino-aromatic antibiotics resulting from the condensation of 3-amino-4-hydroxybenzoic acid with p-vinylphenol. Conversely, when iron is abundantly available, the biosynthetic pathway additionally produces a molecule based on p-vinylphenyl-3-nitroso-4-hydroxybenzoate, which complexes iron to form the trimeric ferroverdins that have anticholesterol activity. Thus, our work shows a unique exception to the concept that BGCs should only produce a single family of molecules with one type of bioactivity and that in fact different bioactive molecules may be produced depending on the environmental conditions.IMPORTANCE Access to whole-genome sequences has exposed the general incidence of the so-called cryptic biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs), thereby renewing their interest for natural product discovery. As a consequence, genome mining is the often first approach implemented to assess the potential of a microorganism for producing novel bioactive metabolites. By revealing a new level of complexity of natural product biosynthesis, we further illustrate the difficulty of estimation of the panel of molecules associated with a BGC based on genomic information alone. Indeed, we found that the same gene cluster is responsible for the production of compounds which differ in terms of structure and bioactivity. The production of these different compounds responds to different environmental triggers, which suggests that multiplication of culture conditions is essential for revealing the entire panel of molecules made by a single BGC.


Streptomyces; genome analysis; iron regulation; natural antimicrobial products; secondary metabolism

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