Most of the antibiotic biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) in Streptomyces are not expressed under laboratory conditions, however these clusters are maintained in the genomes, therefore indicating that they must play important roles in adaptation and survival within their ecological niches. Understanding the global regulation patterns that affect transcription of antibiotic BGCs in soil conditions versus laboratory conditions allows us to identify novel routes for up- or down- regulation in order to trigger expression of these BGCs and therefore production of these antibiotics under controlled laboratory and fermentation conditions. Cryptic pathways represent an untapped resource in terms of new metabolites that could be very useful in the clinic if we can awaken their expression and production. We are using RNA sequencing to analyse global transcriptional patterns of S. venezuelae and S. rimosus grown in sterile soil, non-sterile soil and standard laboratory solid medium, as well as using an unbiased metabolomics approach to identify compounds produced in soils. These results will enable the identification of global regulatory pathways that activate cryptic clusters in nature and lead to the production of these compounds in soil. This will enable us to generate genetically modified strains engineered to increase the yield of both well characterised and cryptic clusters which encode potentially novel compounds under industrial fermentation conditions. It is worth noting that the transcriptional data may also help shed light on the complex regulation of the life cycle of these Streptomyces strains in an ecologically relevant environment.
- General Materials Science