Comparison of biosynthetic gene clusters
Andrew Truman, John Innes Centre
Bacterial natural products are widely used in medicine to treat various diseases. The pathways that produce these compounds are encoded in bacterial genomes as clusters of genes. These gene clusters encode proteins for the biosynthesis of these molecules, as well as self-resistance proteins if the product is antibacterial and therefore potentially toxic to the producing cell. This figure from the Truman Laboratory on the Norwich Research Park shows two related biosynthetic gene clusters from bacteria that make structurally similar antimicrobial natural products. Colour-coding is used to indicate genes that are common to both gene clusters. Understanding how these molecules are made can inform rational pathway redesign to generate new antibiotics.