Actinomycete secondary metabolites are a renowned source of antibacterial chemical scaffolds. Herein, we present a target-specific approach that increases the detection of antimetabolites from natural sources by screening actinomycete-derived extracts against nutrient transporter deletion strains. On the basis of the growth rescue patterns of a collection of 22 Escherichia coli (E. coli) auxotrophic deletion strains representative of the major nutrient biosynthetic pathways, we demonstrate that antimetabolite detection from actinomycete-derived extracts prepared using traditional extraction platforms is masked by nutrient supplementation. In particular, we find poor sensitivity for the detection of antimetabolites targeting vitamin biosynthesis. To circumvent this and as a proof of principle, we exploit the differential activity of actinomycete extracts against E. coli ΔyigM, a biotin transporter deletion strain versus wildtype E. coli. We achieve more than a 100-fold increase in antimetabolite sensitivity using this method and demonstrate a successful bioassay-guided purification of the known biotin antimetabolite, amiclenomycin. Our findings provide a unique solution to uncover the full potential of naturally derived antibiotics.


Gehrke SS, Kumar G, Yokubynas NA, Côté JP, Wang W, French S, MacNair CR, Wright GD, Brown ED.


ACS Infect Dis. 2017 Oct 25;3(12):955-965. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.7b00149.