Characterization and engineering of Streptomyces griseofuscus DSM 40191 as a potential host for heterologous expression of biosynthetic gene clusters

Streptomyces griseofuscus DSM 40191 is a fast growing Streptomyces strain that remains largely underexplored as a heterologous host. Here, we report the genome mining of S. griseofuscus, followed by the detailed exploration of its phenotype, including production of native secondary metabolites and ability to utilise carbon, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus sources.

Furthermore, several routes for genetic engineering of S. griseofuscus were explored, including use of GusA-based vectors, CRISPR-Cas9 and CRISPR-cBEST-mediated knockouts. Using CRISPR-BEST technology, core genes of 4 biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) that are situated on the chromosome arms were inactivated and the outcomes of the inactivations were tested.

Two out of the three native plasmids were cured using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, leading to the generation of strain S. griseofuscus DEL1. DEL1 was further modified by full deletion of a pentamycin BGC and an unknown NRPS BGC, leading to the generation of strain DEL2, lacking approx. 500 kbp of the genome, which corresponds to a 5,19% genome reduction.

Sequencing confirmed that DEL2 does not bear any crucial off-target effects or rearrangements in its genome. It can be characterized by faster growth and inability to produce three main native metabolites of S. griseofuscus: lankacidin, lankamycin, pentamycin and their derivatives.

To test the ability of DEL2 to heterologously produce secondary metabolites, the actinorhodin BGC was used. We were able to confirm the production of actinorhodin by both S. griseofuscus wild type and DEL2. We believe that this strain will serve as a good chassis for heterologous expression of BGCs.

Importance The rise of antibacterial resistance calls on the development of the next generation of antibiotics, majority of which are derived from natural compounds, produced by actinomycetes. The manipulation, refactoring and expression of BGCs coding for such natural products is a promising approach in secondary metabolite discovery.

Thus, the development of a versatile panel of heterologous hosts for the expression of BGCs is essential. We believe that first-to-date systematic, detailed characterisation of S. griseofuscus, a highly promising chassis strain, will not only facilitate the further development of this particular strain, but also will set a blueprint for characterisation of other potential hosts.

Authors: Tetiana Gren, Christopher M. Whitford, Omkar S. Mohite, Tue S. Jørgensen, Eftychia E. Kontou, Julie B. Nielsen, Sang Yup Lee, Tilmann Weber