, Volume 79, Issue 3-4, pp 251-259

Genetic methods and strategies for secondary metabolite yield improvement in actinomycetes

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The foundation for any strain improvement program is efficient random chemically-induced mutagenesis coupled with highly reproducible fermentation and product assays. The broad spectrum of spontaneous mutations can be leveraged in some cases by direct selection of mutants with desired traits. Transposons containing outward-reading promoter activity might be used to enhance yields by inducing promoter fusions, disrupting negative regulatory elements, or disrupting genes involved in competing pathways. Transposons might also be used to identify and clone positive regulatory genes. As knowledge of the key elements in the fermentation process and secondary metabolite biosynthesis grows, gene cloning and targeted gene duplication becomes an important tool. Duplication of genes involved in rate limiting steps can be achieved to improve product yields by inserting the desired gene(s) into neutral sites in the chromosome by homologous recombination or by site-specific integration. The probabilities and frequencies of success of the molecular genetic approaches should increase with an increasing knowledge of key factors influencing product yields. This knowledge can be broadened dramatically by a combination of structural and functional genomics, gene disruption analysis and metabolic modeling. Protoplast fusion can be used to recombine beneficial traits from any of the other approaches.