Oxytetracycline hyper-production through targeted genome reduction of Streptomyces rimosus

Alen Pšeničnik, Lucija Slemc, Martina Avbelj, Miha Tome, Martin Šala, Paul Herron, Maksym Shmatkov, Marko Petek, Špela Baebler, Peter Mrak, Daslav Hranueli, Antonio Starčević, Iain S. Hunter, Hrvoje Petković

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Most biosynthetic gene clusters (BGC) encoding the synthesis of important microbial secondary metabolites, such as antibiotics, are either silent or poorly expressed; therefore, to ensure a strong pipeline of novel antibiotics, there is a need to develop rapid and efficient strain development approaches. This study uses comparative genome analysis to instruct rational strain improvement, using Streptomyces rimosus, the producer of the important antibiotic oxytetracycline (OTC) as a model system. Sequencing of the genomes of two industrial strains M4018 and R6-500, developed independently from a common ancestor, identified large DNA rearrangements located at the chromosome end. We evaluated the effect of these genome deletions on the parental S. rimosus Type Strain (ATCC 10970) genome where introduction of a 145 kb deletion close to the OTC BGC in the Type Strain resulted in massive OTC overproduction, achieving titers that were equivalent to M4018 and R6-500. Transcriptome data supported the hypothesis that the reason for such an increase in OTC biosynthesis was due to enhanced transcription of the OTC BGC and not due to enhanced substrate supply. We also observed changes in the expression of other cryptic BGCs; some metabolites, undetectable in ATCC 10970, were now produced at high titers. This study demonstrated for the first time that the main force behind BGC overexpression is genome rearrangement. This new approach demonstrates great potential to activate cryptic gene clusters of yet unexplored natural products of medical and industrial value.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2024


  • genome reduction
  • comparative genome analysis


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