Synthetic Biology in Streptomyces Bacteria

Marnix H. Medema, Rainer Breitling, Eriko Takano

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Actinomycete bacteria of the genus Streptomyces are major producers of bioactive compounds for the biotechnology industry. They are the source of most clinically used antibiotics, as well as of several widely used drugs against common diseases, including cancer . Genome sequencing has revealed that the potential of Streptomyces species for the production of valuable secondary metabolites is even larger than previously realized. Accessing this rich genomic resource to discover new compounds by activating “cryptic” pathways is an interesting challenge for synthetic biology. This approach is facilitated by the inherent natural modularity of secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways, at the level of individual enzymes (such as modular polyketide synthases), but also of gene cassettes/operons and entire biosynthetic gene clusters. It also benefits from a long tradition of molecular biology in Streptomyces, which provides a number of specific tools, ranging from cloning vectors to inducible promoters and translational control elements. In this chapter, we first provide an overview of the synthetic biology challenges in Streptomyces and then present the existing toolbox of molecular methods that can be employed in this organism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-502
Number of pages18
JournalMethods in Enzymology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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