Disruption of the copper efflux pump (CopA) of Serratia marcescens ATCC 274 pleiotropically affects copper sensitivity and production of the tripyrrole secondary metabolite, prodigiosin

  • N. R. Williamson
  • H. T. Simonsen
  • A. K. P. Harris
  • F. J. Leeper
  • George P. C. Salmond
Original Paper - JMBM


The prodigiosin biosynthetic gene cluster (pig cluster) of Serratia marcescens ATCC 274 (Sma 274) is flanked by cueR/copA homologues. Inactivation of the copA homologue resulted in an increased sensitivity to copper, confirming that CopA is involved in copper homeostasis in Sma 274. The effect of copper on the biosynthesis of prodigiosin in Sma 274 and the copA mutant strain was investigated. Increased levels of copper were found to reduce prodigiosin production in the wild type Sma 274, but increase production in the copA mutant strain. The physiological implications for CopA mediated prodigiosin production are discussed. We also demonstrate that the gene products of pigB–pigE of Sma 274 are sufficient for the biosynthesis of 2-methyl-3-n-amyl-pyrrole and condensation with 4-methoxy-2,2′-bipyrrole-5-carboxyaldehyde to form prodigiosin, as we have shown for Serratia sp. ATCC 39006.


Antibiotic Biosynthesis Regulation Secondary metabolite 



We thank Martin Welch and members of the Salmond group for helpful discussions. We would also like to thank Ian Foulds for his excellent technical assistance. This study was supported generously by the BBSRC, UK. AKPH was supported by a BBSRC studentship.


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. R. Williamson
    • 1
  • H. T. Simonsen
    • 2
  • A. K. P. Harris
    • 1
  • F. J. Leeper
    • 2
  • George P. C. Salmond
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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