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The tunicamycin biosynthetic gene cluster of Streptomyces chartreusis consists of 14 genes (tunA to tunN) with a high degree of apparent translational coupling. Transcriptional analysis revealed that all of these genes are likely to be transcribed as a single operon from two promoters, tunp1 and tunp2. In-frame deletion analysis revealed that just six of these genes (tunABCDEH) are essential for tunicamycin production in the heterologous host Streptomyces coelicolor, while five (tunFGKLN) with likely counterparts in primary metabolism are not necessary, but presumably ensure efficient production of the antibiotic at the onset of tunicamycin biosynthesis. Three genes are implicated in immunity, namely, tunI and tunJ, which encode a two-component ABC transporter presumably required for export of the antibiotic, and tunM, which encodes a putative S-adenosylmethionine (SAM)-dependent methyltransferase. Expression of tunIJ or tunM in S. coelicolor conferred resistance to exogenous tunicamycin. The results presented here provide new insights into tunicamycin biosynthesis and immunity.

Original publication




Journal article


Antimicrob Agents Chemother

Publication Date





Streptomyces, antibiotic, biosynthesis, immunity, tunicamycin, ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Base Sequence, Gene Deletion, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Genes, Bacterial, Genetic Complementation Test, Methyltransferases, Multigene Family, Operon, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Streptomyces, Streptomyces coelicolor, Tunicamycin