Comparative analysis and insights into the evolution of gene clusters for glycopeptide antibiotic biosynthesis

Stefano Donadio, Magherita Sosio, Evi Stegmann, Tilmann Weber, Wolfgang Wohlleben

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The bal, cep, dbv, sta and tcp gene clusters specify the biosynthesis of the glycopeptide antibiotics balhimycin, chloroeremomycin, A40926, A47934 and teicoplanin, respectively. These structurally related compounds share a similar mechanism of action in their inhibition of bacterial cell wall formation. Comparative sequence analysis was performed on the five gene clusters. Extensive conserved synteny was observed between the bal and cep clusters, which direct the synthesis of very similar compounds but originate from two different species of the genus Amycolatopsis. All other cluster pairs show a limited degree of conserved synteny, involving biosynthetically functional gene cassettes: these include those involved in the synthesis of the carbon backbone of two non-proteinogenic amino acids; in the linkage of amino acids 1--3 and 4--7 in the heptapeptide; and in the formation of the aromatic cross-links. Furthermore, these segments of conserved synteny are often preceded by conserved intergenic regions. Phylogenetic analysis of protein families shows several instances in which relatedness in the chemical structure of the glycopeptides is not reflected in the extent of the relationship of the corresponding polypeptides. Coherent branchings are observed for all polypeptides encoded by the syntenous gene cassettes. These results suggest that the acquisition of distinct, functional genetic elements has played a significant role in the evolution of glycopeptide gene clusters, giving them a mosaic structure. In addition, the synthesis of the structurally similar compounds A40926 and teicoplanin appears as the result of convergent evolution
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Genetics and Genomics
Pages (from-to)40-50
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Acids amino acid Amino Acids Amycolatopsis analysis antibiotic antibiotic biosynthesis Antibiotics biosynthesis carbon Cell Wall CLUSTER Evolution gene gene cassette gene cluster glycopeptide glycopeptide antibiotic Glycopeptides protein REGION relationship sequence sequence analysis structure Synteny synthesis


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