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Discovery of “heat shock metabolites” produced by thermotolerant actinomycetes in high-temperature culture


In actinomycetes, many secondary metabolite biosynthetic genes are not expressed under typical laboratory culture conditions and various efforts have been made to activate these dormant genes. In this study, we focused on high-temperature culture. First, we examined the thermotolerance of 3160 actinomycete strains from our laboratory culture collection and selected 57 thermotolerant actinomycetes that grew well at 45 °C. These 57 thermotolerant actinomycetes were cultured for 5 days in liquid medium at both 30 °C and 45 °C. Culture broths were extracted with 1-butanol, and each extract was subjected to LC/MS analysis. The metabolic profiles of each strain were compared between the 30 °C and 45 °C cultures. We found that almost half of these thermotolerant actinomycetes produced secondary metabolites that were detected only in the 45 °C culture. This result suggests that high-temperature culture induces the production of dormant secondary metabolites. These compounds were named “heat shock metabolites (HSMs).” To examine HSM production in more detail, 18 strains were selected at random from the initial 57 strains and cultivated in six different media at 30 °C and 45 °C; as before, metabolic profiles of each strain in each medium were compared between the 30 °C and 45 °C cultures. From this analysis, we found a total of 131 HSMs. We identified several angucycline-related compounds as HSMs from two thermotolerant Streptomyces species. Furthermore, we discovered a new compound, murecholamide, as an HSM from thermotolerant Streptomyces sp. AY2. We propose that high-temperature culture of actinomycetes is a convenient method for activating dormant secondary metabolite biosynthetic genes.

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This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research in Innovative Areas (Grant JP17H06401 to MI) from The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

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Correspondence to Yasuo Ohnishi or Masaya Imoto.

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Saito, S., Kato, W., Ikeda, H. et al. Discovery of “heat shock metabolites” produced by thermotolerant actinomycetes in high-temperature culture. J Antibiot 73, 203–210 (2020).

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