Streptomyces coelicolor is a model organism for the study of Streptomyces, a genus of Gram-positive bacteria that undergoes a complex life cycle and produces a broad repertoire of bioactive metabolites and extracellular enzymes. This study investigated the production and characterization of membrane vesicles (MVs) in liquid cultures of S. coelicolor M145 from a structural and biochemical point of view; this was achieved by combining microscopic, physical and -omics analyses. Two main populations of MVs, with different sizes and cargos, were isolated and purified. S. coelicolor MV cargo was determined to be complex, containing different kinds of proteins and metabolites. In particular, a total of 166 proteins involved in cell metabolism/differentiation, molecular processing/transport, and stress response were identified in MVs, the latter functional class also being important for bacterial morpho-physiological differentiation. A subset of these proteins was protected from degradation following treatment of MVs with proteinase K, indicating their localization inside the vesicles. Moreover, S. coelicolor MVs contained an array of metabolites, such as antibiotics, vitamins, amino acids, and components of carbon metabolism. In conclusion, this analysis provides detailed information on S. coelicolor MVs under basal conditions and on their corresponding content, which may be useful in the near future to elucidate vesicle biogenesis and functions. IMPORTANCE Streptomycetes are widely distributed in nature and characterized by a complex life cycle that involves morphological differentiation. They are very relevant in industry because they produce about half of all clinically used antibiotics, as well as other important pharmaceutical products of natural origin. Streptomyces coelicolor is a model organism for the study of bacterial differentiation and bioactive molecule production. S. coelicolor produces extracellular vesicles that carry many molecules, such as proteins and metabolites, including antibiotics. The elucidation of S. coelicolor extracellular vesicle cargo will help us to understand different aspects of streptomycete physiology, such as cell communication during differentiation and response to environmental stimuli. Moreover, the capability of these vesicles for carrying different kinds of biomolecules opens up new biotechnological possibilities related to drug delivery. Indeed, decoding the molecular mechanisms involved in cargo selection may lead to the customization of extracellular vesicle content.
Keywords: Streptomyces; actinomycetes; antibiotics; electron microscopy; membrane vesicles; metabolomics; proteomics.