The global increase in antimicrobial-resistant infections means that there is a need to develop new antimicrobial molecules and strategies to combat the issue. Aurodox is a linear polyketide natural product that is produced by Streptomyces goldiniensis, yet little is known about aurodox biosynthesis or the nature of the biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) that encodes its production. To gain a deeper understanding of aurodox biosynthesis by S. goldiniensis, the whole genome of the organism was sequenced, revealing the presence of an 87 kb hybrid polyketide synthase/non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (PKS/NRPS) BGC. The aurodox BGC shares significant homology with the kirromycin BGC from S. collinus Tϋ 365. However, the genetic organization of the BGC differs significantly. The candidate aurodox gene cluster was cloned and expressed in a heterologous host to demonstrate that it was responsible for aurodox biosynthesis and disruption of the primary PKS gene (aurAI) abolished aurodox production. These data supported a model whereby the initial core biosynthetic reactions involved in aurodox biosynthesis followed that of kirromycin. Cloning aurM* from S. goldiniensis and expressing this in the kirromycin producer S. collinus Tϋ 365 enabled methylation of the pyridone group, suggesting this is the last step in biosynthesis. This methylation step is also sufficient to confer the unique type III secretion system inhibitory properties to aurodox.
IMPORTANCE Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) is a significant global pathogen for which traditional antibiotic treatment is not recommended. Aurodox inhibits the ability of EHEC to establish infection in the host gut through the specific targeting of the type III secretion system while circumventing the induction of toxin production associated with traditional antibiotics. These properties suggest aurodox could be a promising anti-virulence compound for EHEC, which merits further investigation. Here, we characterized the aurodox biosynthetic gene cluster from Streptomyces goldiniensis and established the key enzymatic steps of aurodox biosynthesis that give rise to the unique anti-virulence activity. These data provide the basis for future chemical and genetic approaches to produce aurodox derivatives with increased efficacy and the potential to engineer novel elfamycins.