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Summary

A key step in the biosynthesis of macrolide antibiotics is the assembly of a large macrocyclic lactone ring by a multienzyme protein complex called the polyketide synthase. In the species Streptomyces ambofaciens, the polyketide synthase for the assembly of the 16-membered ring of the macrolide antibiotic spiramycin is encoded by the biosynthetic gene srmG. Here we show that the accumulation of transcripts from the srmG promoter is governed by the regulatory gene srmR, whose predicted product, a 65 kDa polypeptide, is not significantly similar in its deduced amino acid sequence to that of previously reported proteins in the protein databases. The srmR gene product is also required for the accumulation of transcripts from srmX, an additional gene in the vicinity of srmR, but not for the accumulation of transcripts from srmR itself. Interestingly, mutations in srmR prevent the accumulation of transcripts from the spiramycin resistance gene srmB, but this is an indirect consequence of the failure of srmR mutants to produce spiramycin, which is an inducer of its own resistance gene. The possibility that srmR is the prototype for a new class of regulatory genes governing early events in the biosynthesis of macrolide antibiotics is discussed.