Antibiotics that interfere with the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane have long-term potential for the treatment of infectious diseases as this mode of action is anticipated to result in low resistance frequency. Vancoresmycin is an understudied natural product antibiotic consisting of a terminal tetramic acid moiety fused to a linear, highly oxygenated, stereochemically complex polyketide chain. Vancoresmycin shows minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) from 0.125 to 2 µg/mL against a range of clinically relevant, antibiotic-resistant Gram-positive bacteria. Through a comprehensive mode-of-action study, utilizing Bacillus subtilis reporter strains, DiSC3(5) depolarization assays, and fluorescence microscopy, we have shown that vancoresmycin selectively targets the cytoplasmic membrane of Gram-positive bacteria via a non-pore-forming, concentration-dependent depolarization mechanism. Whole genome sequencing of the producing strain allowed identification of the 141 kbp gene cluster encoding for vancoresmycin biosynthesis and a preliminary model for its biosynthesis. The size and complex structure of vancoresmycin could confound attempts to generate synthetic analogues. To overcome this problem and facilitate future studies, we identified, cloned, and expressed the 141 kbp biosynthetic gene cluster in Streptomyces coelicolor M1152. Elucidation of the mode-of-action of vancoresmycin, together with the heterologous expression system, will greatly facilitate further studies of this and related molecules.
Journal: ACS chemical biology