( 2011 )
Genetic screening strategy for rapid access to polyether ionophore producers and products in actinomycetes.
PMID : 21421776 : DOI : 10.1128/AEM.02915-10 PMC : PMC3126441
Polyether ionophores are a unique class of polyketides with broad-spectrum activity and outstanding potency for the control of drug-resistant bacteria and parasites, and they are produced exclusively by actinomycetes. A special epoxidase gene encoding a critical tailoring enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of these compounds has been found in all five of the complete gene clusters of polyether ionophores published so far. To detect potential producer strains of these antibiotics, a pair of degenerate primers was designed according to the conserved regions of the five known polyether epoxidases. A total of 44 putative polyether epoxidase gene-positive strains were obtained by the PCR-based screening of 1,068 actinomycetes isolated from eight different habitats and 236 reference strains encompassing eight major families of Actinomycetales. The isolates spanned a wide taxonomic diversity based on 16S rRNA gene analysis, and actinomycetes isolated from acidic soils seemed to be a promising source of polyether ionophores. Four genera were detected to contain putative polyether epoxidases, including Micromonospora, which has not previously been reported to produce polyether ionophores. The designed primers also detected putative epoxidase genes from diverse known producer strains that produce polyether ionophores unrelated to the five published gene clusters. Moreover, phylogenetic and chemical analyses showed a strong correlation between the sequence of polyether epoxidases and the structure of encoded polyethers. Thirteen positive isolates were proven to be polyether ionophore producers as expected, and two new analogues were found. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using this epoxidase gene screening strategy to aid the rapid identification of known products and the discovery of unknown polyethers in actinomycetes.