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Antibiotic resistance mechanisms inform discovery: identification and characterization of a novel amycolatopsis strain producing ristocetin.



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Truman, Andrew W 
Kwun, Min Jung 
Cheng, Jinhua 
Yang, Seung Hwan 
Suh, Joo-Won 


Discovering new antibiotics is a major scientific challenge, made increasingly urgent by the continued development of resistance in bacterial pathogens. A fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of bacterial antibiotic resistance will be vital for the future discovery or design of new, more effective antibiotics. We have exploited our intimate knowledge of the molecular mechanism of glycopeptide antibiotic resistance in the harmless bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor to develop a new two-step cell wall bioactivity screen, which efficiently identified a new actinomycete strain containing a previously uncharacterized glycopeptide biosynthetic gene cluster. The screen first identifies natural product extracts capable of triggering a generalized cell wall stress response and then specifically selects for glycopeptide antibacterials by assaying for the induction of glycopeptide resistance genes. In this study, we established a diverse natural product extract library from actinomycete strains isolated from locations with widely varying climates and ecologies, and we screened them using the novel two-step bioassay system. The bioassay ultimately identified a single strain harboring the previously unidentified biosynthetic gene cluster for the glycopeptide ristocetin, providing a proof of principle for the effectiveness of the screen. This is the first report of the ristocetin biosynthetic gene cluster, which is predicted to include some interesting and previously uncharacterized enzymes. By focusing on screening libraries of microbial extracts, this strategy provides the certainty that identified producer strains are competent for growth and biosynthesis of the detected glycopeptide under laboratory conditions.



Actinomycetales, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Cell Wall, Drug Resistance, Bacterial, Multigene Family, Ristocetin, Streptomyces

Journal Title

Antimicrob Agents Chemother

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American Society for Microbiology


DSpace@Cambridge license
Medical Research Council (G0700141)
This work was supported by funding from the Royal Society, UK (516002.K5877/ROG), the Medical Research council, UK (G0700141) and St. John’s College, University of Cambridge