Deciphering regulatory mechanisms for secondary metabolite production in the myxobacterium Sorangium cellulosum So ce56

Mol Microbiol. 2007 Mar;63(6):1783-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2007.05627.x.


Sorangium cellulosum strains produce approximately 50% of the biologically active secondary metabolites known from myxobacteria. These metabolites include several compounds of biotechnological importance such as the epothilones and chivosazols, which, respectively, stabilize the tubulin and actin skeletons of eukaryotic cells. S. cellulosum is characterized by its slow growth rate, and natural products are typically produced in low yield. In this study, biomagnetic bead separation of promoter-binding proteins and subsequent inactivation experiments were employed to identify the chivosazol regulator, ChiR, as a positive regulator of chivosazol biosynthesis in the genome-sequenced strain So ce56. Overexpression of chiR under the control of T7A1 promoter in a merodiploid mutant resulted in fivefold overproduction of chivosazol in a kinetic shake flask experiment, and 2.5-fold overproduction by fermentation. Using quantitative reverse transcription PCR and gel shift experiments employing heterologously expressed ChiR, we have shown that transcription of the chivosazol biosynthetic genes (chiA-chiF) is directly controlled by this protein. In addition, we have demonstrated that ChiR serves as a pleiotropic regulator in S. cellulosum, because mutant strains lack the ability to develop into regular fruiting bodies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Macrolides / metabolism*
  • Multigene Family
  • Myxococcales / chemistry
  • Myxococcales / classification
  • Myxococcales / genetics*
  • Myxococcales / metabolism*


  • Macrolides
  • chivosazol A