The expansion of the genetic repertoire of an organism by gene duplication or horizontal gene transfer (HGT) can aid adaptation. Streptomyces bacteria are prolific producers of bioactive specialized metabolites that have adaptive functions in nature and have found extensive utility in human medicine. While the biosynthesis of these specialized metabolites is directed by dedicated biosynthetic gene clusters, little attention has been focused on how these organisms have evolved robustness in their genomes to facilitate the metabolic plasticity required to provide chemical precursors for biosynthesis during the complex metabolic transitions from vegetative growth to specialized metabolite production and sporulation. Here, we examine genetic redundancy in actinobacteria and show that specialized metabolite producing bacterial families exhibit gene family expansion in primary metabolism. Focusing on a gene duplication event, we show that the two pyruvate kinases in the genome of Streptomyces coelicolor arose by an ancient duplication event and that each has evolved altered enzymatic kinetics, with Pyk1 having a 20-fold-higher kcat than Pyk2 (4,703 s�1 compared to 215 s�1, respectively), and yet both are constitutively expressed. The pyruvate kinase mutants were also found to be compromised in terms of fitness compared to wild-type Streptomyces. These data suggest that expanding gene families can help maintain cell functionality during metabolic perturbation such as nutrient limitation and/or specialized metabolite production.
- primary metabolism
- pyruvate kinase