Gene clusters found in bacterial species classified as Streptomyces encode the majority of known antibiotics as well as many pharmaceutically active compounds. A site-specific recombination system similar to those that mediate plasmid conjugation was engineered to catalyze tandem amplification of one of these gene clusters in a heterologous Streptomyces species. Three genetic elements were known to be required for DNA amplification in S. kanamyceticus: the oriT-like recombination sites RsA and RsB, and ZouA, a site-specific relaxase similar to TraA proteins that catalyze plasmid transfer. We inserted RsA and RsB sequences into the S. coelicolor genome flanking a cluster of 22 genes (act) responsible for biosynthesis of the polyketide antibiotic actinorhodin. Recombination between RsA and RsB generated zouA-dependent DNA amplification resulting in 4-12 tandem copies of the act gene cluster averaging nine repeats per genome. This resulted in a 20-fold increase in actinorhodin production compared with the parental strain. To determine whether the recombination event required taxon-specific genetic effectors or generalized bacterial recombination (recA), it was also analyzed in the heterologous host Escherichia coli. zouA was expressed under the control of an inducible promoter in wild-type and recA mutant strains. A plasmid was constructed with recombination sites RsA and RsB bordering a drug resistance marker. Induction of zouA expression generated hybrid RsB/RsA sites, evidence of site-specific recombination that occurred independently of recA. ZouA-mediated DNA amplification promises to be a valuable tool for increasing the activities of commercially important biosynthetic, degradative, and photosynthetic pathways in a wide variety of organisms.
A system for the targeted amplification of bacterial gene clusters multiplies antibiotic yield in Streptomyces coelicolor
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