Central metabolism plays a key role in the control of growth and antibiotic production in streptomycetes. Specifically, aminosugars act as signaling molecules that affect development and antibiotic production, via metabolic interference with the global repressor DasR. While aminosugar metabolism directly connects to other major metabolic routes such as glycolysis and cell wall synthesis, several important aspects of their metabolism are yet unresolved. Accumulation of N-acetylglucosamine 6-phosphate or glucosamine 6-phosphate is lethal to many bacteria, a yet unresolved phenomenon referred to as "aminosugar sensitivity." We made use of this concept by selecting for suppressors in genes related to glucosamine toxicity in nagB mutants, which showed that the gene pair of rok-family regulatory gene rokL6 and major facilitator superfamily transporter gene sco1448 forms a cryptic rescue mechanism. Inactivation of rokL6 resulted in the expression of sco1448, which then prevents the toxicity of amino sugar-derived metabolites in Streptomyces. The systems biology of RokL6 and its transcriptional control of sco1448 shed new light on aminosugar metabolism in streptomycetes and on the response of bacteria to aminosugar toxicity.
Keywords: ROK-family protein; Streptomyces biology; aminosugar metabolism; control of antibiotic production; systems biology.