Recent advances in activating silent biosynthetic gene clusters in bacteria

Dainan Mao, Bethany K. Okada, Yihan Wu, Fei Xu, Mohammad R. Seyedsayamdost

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The explosion of microbial genome sequences has shown that bacteria harbor an immense, largely untapped potential for the biosynthesis of diverse natural products, which have traditionally served as an important source of pharmaceutical compounds. Most of the biosynthetic genes that can be detected bioinformatically are only weakly expressed, or not at all, under standard laboratory growth conditions. Herein we review three recent approaches that have been developed for inducing these so-called silent biosynthetic gene clusters: insertion of constitutively active promoters using CRISPR-Cas9, high-throughput elicitor screening for identification of small molecule inducers, and reporter-guided mutant selection for creation of overproducing strains. Together with strategies implemented previously, these approaches promise to unleash the products of silent gene clusters for years to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-163
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in microbiology
StatePublished - Oct 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology


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