The cyclic lipodepsipeptides WAP-8294A are antibiotics with potent activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). One member of this family, WAP-8294A2 (Lotilibcin), was in clinical trials due to its high activity and distinct chemistry. However, WAP-8294A compounds are produced in a very low yield by Lysobacter and only under very stringent conditions. Improving WAP-8294A yield has become very critical for research and application of these anti-MRSA compounds. Here, we report a strategy to increase WAP-8294A production. We first used the CRISPR/dCas9 system to increase the expression of five cotranscribed genes (orf1-5) in the WAP gene cluster, by fusing the omega subunit of RNA polymerase with dCas9 that targets the operon's promoter region. This led to the transcription of the genes increased by 5-48 folds in strain dCas9-ω3. We then refactored four putative self-protection genes (orf6, orf7, orf9 and orf10) by reorganizing them into an operon under the control of a strong Lysobacter promoter, PHSAF. The refactored operon was introduced into strain dCas9-ω3, and the transcription of the self-protection genes increased by 20-60 folds in the resultant engineered strains. The yield of the three main WAP-8294A compounds, WAP-8294A1, WAP-8294A2, and WAP-8294A4, increased by 6, 4, and 9 folds, respectively, in the engineered strains. The data also showed that the yield increase of WAP-8294A compounds was mainly due to the increase of the extracellular distribution. WAP-8294A2 exhibited potent (MIC 0.2-0.8 μg/mL) and specific activity against S. aureus among a battery of clinically relevant Gram-positive pathogens (54 isolates).
- gene refactoring
- natural products
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)