Open Access Research article

Systems perspectives on erythromycin biosynthesis by comparative genomic and transcriptomic analyses of S. erythraea E3 and NRRL23338 strains

Yuan-Yuan Li1, Xiao Chang135, Wen-Bang Yu2, Hao Li2, Zhi-Qiang Ye14, Hui Yu13, Bao-Hong Liu1, Yan Zhang2, Si-Liang Zhang2, Bang-Ce Ye12* and Yi-Xue Li13*

Author Affiliations

1 Shanghai Center for Bioinformation Technology, 1278 Keyuan Road, Shanghai 201203, China

2 Lab of Biosystems and Microanalysis, State Key Laboratory of Bioreactor Engineering, East China University of Science & Technology, Shanghai 200237, China

3 Bioinformatics Center, Key Lab of Systems Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Yueyang Road, Shanghai 200031, China

4 Laboratory of Chemical Genomics, School of Chemical Biology and Biotechnology, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, Shenzhen, 518055, China

5 The Center for Applied Genomics, Abramson Research Center, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:523  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-523

Published: 31 July 2013



S. erythraea is a Gram-positive filamentous bacterium used for the industrial-scale production of erythromycin A which is of high clinical importance. In this work, we sequenced the whole genome of a high-producing strain (E3) obtained by random mutagenesis and screening from the wild-type strain NRRL23338, and examined time-series expression profiles of both E3 and NRRL23338. Based on the genomic data and transcriptpmic data of these two strains, we carried out comparative analysis of high-producing strain and wild-type strain at both the genomic level and the transcriptomic level.


We observed a large number of genetic variants including 60 insertions, 46 deletions and 584 single nucleotide variations (SNV) in E3 in comparison with NRRL23338, and the analysis of time series transcriptomic data indicated that the genes involved in erythromycin biosynthesis and feeder pathways were significantly up-regulated during the 60 hours time-course. According to our data, BldD, a previously identified ery cluster regulator, did not show any positive correlations with the expression of ery cluster, suggesting the existence of alternative regulation mechanisms of erythromycin synthesis in S. erythraea. Several potential regulators were then proposed by integration analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data.


This is a demonstration of the functional comparative genomics between an industrial S. erythraea strain and the wild-type strain. These findings help to understand the global regulation mechanisms of erythromycin biosynthesis in S. erythraea, providing useful clues for genetic and metabolic engineering in the future.

S. erythraea; Erythromycin biosynthesis; Functional comparative genetics; Regulation mechanism