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Schlawis, C, Kern S, Kudo Y, Grunenberg J, Moore BS, Schulz S.  2018.  Structural elucidation of trace components combining GC/MS, GC/IR, DFT-calculation and synthesis-salinilactones, unprecedented bicyclic lactones from Salinispora bacteria. Angewandte Chemie-International Edition. 57:14921-14925.   10.1002/anie.201807923   AbstractWebsite

The analysis of volatiles released by marine Salinispora bacteria uncovered a new class of natural compounds displaying an unusual bicyclic [3.1.0]-lactone skeleton. Although only sub-mu g quantities of the compounds were available, the combination of analytical methods, computational spectroscopy, and synthesis allowed unambiguous structural identification of the compounds, called salinilactones, without the need for isolation. Orthogonal hyphenated methods, GC/MS and solid-phase GC/IR allowed to propose a small set of structures consistent with the data. A candidate structure was selected by comparison of DFT-calculated IR spectra and the experimental IR-spectrum. Synthesis confirmed the structure and absolute configuration of three bicyclic lactones, salinilactones A-C. The salinilactones are structurally closely related to the A-factor class of compounds, autoregulators from streptomycete bacteria. They exhibited inhibitory activity against Salinispora and Streptomyces strains.

Zhang, JJ, Moore BS, Tang XY.  2018.  Engineering Salinispora tropica for heterologous expression of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 102:8437-8446.   10.1007/s00253-018-9283-z   AbstractWebsite

The marine actinomycete genus Salinispora is a remarkably prolific source of structurally diverse and biologically active secondary metabolites. Herein, we select the model organism Salinispora tropica CNB-440 for development as a heterologous host for the expression of biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) to complement well-established Streptomyces host strains. In order to create an integratable host with a clean background of secondary metabolism, we replaced three genes (salA-C) essential for salinosporamide biosynthesis with a cassette containing the Streptomyces coelicolor Phi C31 phage attachment site attB to generate the mutant S. tropica CNB-4401 via double-crossover recombination. This mutagenesis not only knocks-in the attachment site attB in the genome of S. tropica CNB-440 but also abolishes production of the salinosporamides, thereby simplifying the strain's chemical background. We validated this new heterologous host with the successful integration and expression of the thiolactomycin BGC that we recently identified in several S. pacifica strains. When compared to the extensively engineered superhost S. coelicolor M1152, the production of thiolactomycins from S. tropica CNB-4401 was approximately 3-fold higher. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example of using a marine actinomycete as a heterologous host for natural product BGC expression. The established heterologous host may provide a useful platform to accelerate the discovery of novel natural products and engineer biosynthetic pathways.

Bruns, H, Crusemann M, Letzel AC, Alanjary M, McInerney JO, Jensen PR, Schulz S, Moore BS, Ziemert N.  2018.  Function-related replacement of bacterial siderophore pathways. Isme Journal. 12:320-329.   10.1038/ismej.2017.137   AbstractWebsite

Bacterial genomes are rife with orphan biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) associated with secondary metabolism of unrealized natural product molecules. Often up to a tenth of the genome is predicted to code for the biosynthesis of diverse metabolites with mostly unknown structures and functions. This phenomenal diversity of BGCs coupled with their high rates of horizontal transfer raise questions about whether they are really active and beneficial, whether they are neutral and confer no advantage, or whether they are carried in genomes because they are parasitic or addictive. We previously reported that Salinispora bacteria broadly use the desferrioxamine family of siderophores for iron acquisition. Herein we describe a new and unrelated group of peptidic siderophores called salinichelins from a restricted number of Salinispora strains in which the desferrioxamine biosynthesis genes have been lost. We have reconstructed the evolutionary history of these two different siderophore families and show that the acquisition and retention of the new salinichelin siderophores co- occurs with the loss of the more ancient desferrioxamine pathway. This identical event occurred at least three times independently during the evolution of the genus. We surmise that certain BGCs may be extraneous because of their functional redundancy and demonstrate that the relative evolutionary pace of natural pathway replacement shows high selective pressure against retention of functionally superfluous gene clusters.

Amos, GCA, Awakawa T, Tuttle RN, Letzel AC, Kim MC, Kudo Y, Fenical W, Moore BS, Jensen PR.  2017.  Comparative transcriptomics as a guide to natural product discovery and biosynthetic gene cluster functionality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 114:E11121-E11130.   10.1073/pnas.1714381115   AbstractWebsite

Bacterial natural products remain an important source of new medicines. DNA sequencing has revealed that a majority of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) maintained in bacterial genomes have yet to be linked to the small molecules whose biosynthesis they encode. Efforts to discover the products of these orphan BGCs are driving the development of genome mining techniques based on the premise that many are transcriptionally silent during normal laboratory cultivation. Here, we employ comparative transcriptomics to assess BGC expression among four closely related strains of marine bacteria belonging to the genus Salinispora. The results reveal that slightly more than half of the BGCs are expressed at levels that should facilitate product detection. By comparing the expression profiles of similar gene clusters in different strains, we identified regulatory genes whose inactivation appears linked to cluster silencing. The significance of these subtle differences between expressed and silent BGCs could not have been predicted a priori and was only revealed by comparative transcriptomics. Evidence for the conservation of silent clusters among a larger number of strains for which genome sequences are available suggests they may be under different regulatory control from the expressed forms or that silencing may represent an underappreciated mechanism of gene cluster evolution. Coupling gene expression and metabolomics data established a bioinformatic link between the salinipostins and their associated BGC, while genetic manipulation established the genetic basis for this series of compounds, which were previously unknown from Salinispora pacifica.

Zhang, JJ, Tang XY, Zhang M, Nguyen D, Moore BS.  2017.  Broad-host-range expression reveals native and host regulatory elements that influence heterologous antibiotic production in gram-negative bacteria. Mbio. 8   10.1128/mBio.01291-17   AbstractWebsite

Heterologous expression has become a powerful tool for studying microbial biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs). Here, we extend the transformation-associated recombination cloning and heterologous expression platform for microbial BGCs to include Gram-negative proteobacterial expression hosts. Using a broad-hostrange expression platform, we test the implicit assumption that biosynthetic pathways are more successfully expressed in more closely related heterologous hosts. Cloning and expression of the violacein BGC from Pseudoalteromonas luteoviolacea 2ta16 revealed robust production in two proteobacterial hosts, Pseudomonas putida KT2440 and Agrobacterium tumefaciens LBA4404, but very little production of the antibiotic in various laboratory strains of Escherichia coli, despite their closer phylogenetic relationship. We identified a nonclustered LuxR-type quorum-sensing receptor from P. luteoviolacea 2ta16, PviR, that increases pathway transcription and violacein production in E. coli by similar to 60-fold independently of acyl-homoserine lactone autoinducers. Although E. coli harbors the most similar homolog of PviR identified from all of the hosts tested, overexpression of various E. coli transcription factors did not result in a statistically significant increase in violacein production, while overexpression of two A. tumefaciens PviR homologs significantly increased production. Thus, this work not only introduces a new genetic platform for the heterologous expression of microbial BGCs, it also challenges the assumption that host phylogeny is an accurate predictor of host compatibility. IMPORTANCE Although Gram-positive heterologous hosts such as Streptomyces have been developed and optimized to support diverse secondary metabolic reactions, there has been comparatively less work on Gram-negative hosts, some of which grow faster and are easier to work with. This work presents a new genetic platform for direct cloning and broad-host-range heterologous expression of BGCs in Gram-negative proteobacterial expression hosts, and we leverage this platform to uncover regulatory elements that influence violacein expression from Pseudoalteromonas. Although it is often assumed that BGCs will be more successfully expressed in more closely related hosts, our work suggests that this may not be a general rule of thumb, as heterologous production of natural products can be influenced by specific host regulatory and/or biosynthetic elements, and the identity and effectiveness of those elements are difficult to predict. We argue for the use of a diverse set of heterologous hosts, which may also provide insights into BGC mechanism and function.

Letzel, AC, Li J, Amos GCA, Millan-Aguinaga N, Ginigini J, Abdelmohsen UR, Gaudencio SP, Ziemert N, Moore BS, Jensen PR.  2017.  Genomic insights into specialized metabolism in the marine actinomycete Salinispora. Environmental Microbiology. 19:3660-3673.   10.1111/1462-2920.13867   AbstractWebsite

Comparative genomics is providing new opportunities to address the diversity and distributions of genes encoding the biosynthesis of specialized metabolites. An analysis of 119 genome sequences representing three closely related species of the marine actinomycete genus Salinispora reveals extraordinary biosynthetic diversity in the form of 176 distinct biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) of which only 24 have been linked to their products. Remarkably, more than half of the BGCs were observed in only one or two strains, suggesting they were acquired relatively recently in the evolutionary history of the genus. These acquired gene clusters are concentrated in specific genomic islands, which represent hot spots for BGC acquisition. While most BGCs are stable in terms of their chromosomal position, others migrated to different locations or were exchanged with unrelated gene clusters suggesting a plug and play type model of evolution that provides a mechanism to test the relative fitness effects of specialized metabolites. Transcriptome analyses were used to address the relationships between BGC abundance, chromosomal position and product discovery. The results indicate that recently acquired BGCs can be functional and that complex evolutionary processes shape the micro-diversity of specialized metabolism observed in closely related environmental bacteria.

Schorn, MA, Alanjary MM, Aguinaldo K, Korobeynikov A, Podell S, Patin N, Lincecum T, Jensen PR, Ziemert N, Moore BS.  2016.  Sequencing rare marine actinomycete genomes reveals high density of unique natural product biosynthetic gene clusters. Microbiology-Sgm. 162:2075-2086.   10.1099/mic.0.000386   AbstractWebsite

Traditional natural product discovery methods have nearly exhausted the accessible diversity of microbial chemicals, making new sources and techniques paramount in the search for new molecules. Marine actinomycete bacteria have recently come into the spotlight as fruitful producers of structurally diverse secondary metabolites, and remain relatively untapped. In this study, we sequenced 21 marine-derived actinomycete strains, rarely studied for their secondary metabolite potential and under-represented in current genomic databases. We found that genome size and phylogeny were good predictors of biosynthetic gene cluster diversity, with larger genomes rivalling the well-known marine producers in the Streptomyces and Salinispora genera. Genomes in the Micrococcineae suborder, however, had consistently the lowest number of biosynthetic gene clusters. By networking individual gene clusters into gene cluster families, we were able to computationally estimate the degree of novelty each genus contributed to the current sequence databases. Based on the similarity measures between all actinobacteria in the Joint Genome Institute's Atlas of Biosynthetic gene Clusters database, rare marine genera show a high degree of novelty and diversity, with Corynebacterium, Gordonia, Nocardiopsis, Saccharomonospora and Pseudonocardia genera representing the highest gene cluster diversity. This research validates that rare marine actinomycetes are important candidates for exploration, as they are relatively unstudied, and their relatives are historically rich in secondary metabolites.

Tang, XY, Li J, Millan-Aguinaga N, Zhang JJ, O'Neill EC, Ugalde JA, Jensen PR, Mantovani SM, Moore BS.  2015.  Identification of thiotetronic acid antibiotic biosynthetic pathways by target-directed genome mining. Acs Chemical Biology. 10:2841-2849.   10.1021/acschembio.5b00658   AbstractWebsite

Recent genome sequencing efforts have led to the rapid accumulation of uncharacterized or "orphaned" secondary metabolic biosynthesis gene clusters (BGCs) in public databases. This increase in DNA-sequenced big data has given rise to significant challenges in the applied field of natural product genome mining, including (i) how to prioritize the characterization of orphan BGCs and (ii) how to rapidly connect genes to biosynthesized small molecules. Here, we show that by correlating putative antibiotic resistance genes that encode target-modified proteins with orphan BGCs, we predict the biological function of pathway specific small molecules before they have been revealed in a process we call target-directed genome mining. By querying the pan-genome of 86 Salinispora bacterial genomes for duplicated house-keeping genes colocalized with natural product BGCs, we prioritized an orphan polyketide synthase-nonribosomal peptide synthetase hybrid BGC (tlm) with a putative fatty acid synthase resistance gene. We employed a new synthetic double-stranded DNA-mediated cloning strategy based on transformation-associated recombination to efficiently capture tlm and the related Mu BGCs directly from genomic DNA and to heterologously express them in Streptomyces hosts. We show the production of a group of unusual thiotetronic acid natural products, including the well-known fatty acid synthase inhibitor thiolactomycin that was first described over 30 years ago, yet never at the genetic level in regards to biosynthesis and autoresistance. This finding not only validates the target-directed genome mining strategy for the discovery of antibiotic producing gene clusters without a priori knowledge of the molecule synthesized but also paves the way for the investigation of novel: enzymology involved in thiotetronic, acid natural product biosynthesis.

Richter, TKS, Hughes CC, Moore BS.  2015.  Sioxanthin, a novel glycosylated carotenoid, reveals an unusual subclustered biosynthetic pathway. Environmental Microbiology. 17:2158-2171.   10.1111/1462-2920.12669   AbstractWebsite

Members of the marine actinomycete genus Salinispora constitutively produce a characteristic orange pigment during vegetative growth. Contrary to the understanding of widespread carotenoid biosynthesis pathways in bacteria, Salinispora carotenoid biosynthesis genes are not confined to a single cluster. Instead, bioinformatic and genetic investigations confirm that four regions of the Salinispora tropicaCNB-440 genome, consisting of two gene clusters and two independent genes, contribute to the in vivo production of a single carotenoid. This compound, namely (2S)-1-(-D-glucopyranosyloxy)-3,4-didehydro-1,2-dihydro-phi,-caroten-2-ol, is novel and has been given the trivial name sioxanthin'. Sioxanthin is a C-40-carotenoid, glycosylated on one end of the molecule and containing an aryl moiety on the opposite end. Glycosylation is unusual among actinomycete carotenoids, and sioxanthin joins a rare group of carotenoids with polar and non-polar head groups. Gene sequence homology predicts that the sioxanthin biosynthetic pathway is present in all of the Salinispora as well as other members of the family Micromonosporaceae. Additionally, this study's investigations of clustering of carotenoid biosynthetic genes in heterotrophic bacteria show that a non-clustered genome arrangement is more common than previously suggested, with nearly half of the investigated genomes showing a non-clustered architecture.

Bonet, B, Teufel R, Crusemann M, Ziemert N, Moore BS.  2015.  Direct capture and heterologous expression of Salinispora natural product genes for the biosynthesis of enterocin. Journal of Natural Products. 78:539-542.   10.1021/np500664q   AbstractWebsite

Heterologous expression of secondary metabolic pathways is a promising approach for the discovery and characterization of bioactive natural products. Herein we report the first heterologous expression of a natural product from the model marine actinomycete genus Salinispora. Using the recently developed method of yeast-mediated transformation-associated recombination for natural product gene clusters, we captured a type II polyketide synthase pathway from Salinispora pacifica with high homology to the enterocin pathway from Streptomyces maritimus and successfully produced enterocin in two different Streptomyces host strains. This result paves the way for the systematic interrogation of Salinispora's promising secondary metabolome.