Metabolic engineering of the shikimate pathway in Amycolatopsis strains for optimized glycopeptide antibiotic production

Valentina Goldfinger (Leading Author), Marius Spohn (Leading Author), Jens Peter Rodler, Melanie Sigle, Andreas Kulik, Max J. Cryle, Johanna Rapp, Hannes Link, Wolfgang Wohlleben, Evi Stegmann (Leading Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Glycopeptide antibiotics (GPA) consist of a glycosylated heptapeptide backbone enriched in aromatic residues originating from the shikimate pathway. Since the enzymatic reactions within the shikimate pathway are highly feedback-regulated, this raises the question as to how GPA producers control the delivery of precursors for GPA assembly. We chose Amycolatopsis balhimycina, the producer of balhimycin, as a model strain for analyzing the key enzymes of the shikimate pathway. A. balhimycina contains two copies each of the key enzymes of the shikimate pathway, deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate-7-phosphate synthase (Dahp) and prephenate dehydrogenase (Pdh), with one pair (Dahpsec and Pdhsec) encoded within the balhimycin biosynthetic gene cluster and one pair (Dahpprim and Pdhprim) in the core genome. While overexpression of the dahpsec gene resulted in a significant (>4-fold) increase in balhimycin yield, no positive effects were observed after overexpression of the pdhprim or pdhsec genes. Investigation of allosteric enzyme inhibition revealed that cross-regulation between the tyrosine and phenylalanine pathways plays an important role. Tyrosine, a key precursor of GPAs, was found to be a putative activator of prephenate dehydratase (Pdt), which catalyzes the first step reaction from prephenate to phenylalanine in the shikimate pathway. Surprisingly, overexpression of pdt in A. balhimycina led to an increase in antibiotic production in this modified strain. In order to demonstrate that this metabolic engineering approach is generally applicable to GPA producers, we subsequently applied this strategy to Amycolatopsis japonicum and improved the production of ristomycin A, which is used in diagnosis of genetic disorders. Comparison of “cluster-specific” enzymes with the isoenzymes from the primary metabolism's pathway provided insights into the adaptive mechanisms used by producers to ensure adequate precursor supply and GPA yields. These insights further demonstrate the importance of a holistic approach in bioengineering efforts that takes into account not only peptide assembly but also adequate precursor supply.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-92
Number of pages9
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Aromatic amino acids
  • Balhimycin
  • GPA
  • Pathway engineering
  • Precursor optimization
  • Ristomycin
  • Shikimate pathway

Cite this