The need for new antibiotics with unique targets and novel mechanisms of action is now more urgent than ever.
The natural products of Streptomyces bacteria are already responsible for 50-60% of all antibiotics used in the clinic today, and these filamentous Actinomycetes still have great potential.
Katie works on Streptomyces formicae – known as KY5 – which is responsible for the production for formicamycin, a novel antibiotic against a wide range of pathogens.
Katie’s project looks at how the formicamycin biosynthetic pathway is regulated with focus on the cluster-situated two component system ForGF.
By understanding the factors that control expression of formicamycin it may be possible to refactor the formicamycin cluster for overproduction.
KY5 has a large number of biosynthetic gene clusters within its genome that may also encode other novel antimicrobials.
As two component systems are the main way in which Streptomyces sense and respond to the environment around them, investigating other similar regulators may allow for some of these cryptic gene clusters and their natural products to be switched on.