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Open Access Research article

Chromosomal instability in Streptomyces avermitilis: major deletion in the central region and stable circularized chromosome

Wei Chen, Fei He, Xiaojuan Zhang, Zhi Chen, Ying Wen* and Jilun Li

Author Affiliations

State Key Laboratories for Agro-biotechnology, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, PR China

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:198  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-198

Published: 26 July 2010

Abstract

Background

The chromosome of Streptomyces has been shown to be unstable, frequently undergoing gross chromosomal rearrangements. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain unclear, with previous studies focused on two chromosomal ends as targets for rearrangements. Here we investigated chromosomal instability of Streptomyces avermitilis, an important producer of avermectins, and characterized four gross chromosomal rearrangement events, including a major deletion in the central region. The present findings provide a valuable contribution to the mechanistic study of genetic instability in Streptomyces.

Results

Thirty randomly-selected "bald" mutants derived from the wild-type strain all contained gross chromosomal rearrangements of various types. One of the bald mutants, SA1-8, had the same linear chromosomal structure as the high avermectin-producing mutant 76-9. Chromosomes of both strains displayed at least three independent chromosomal rearrangements, including chromosomal arm replacement to form new 88-kb terminal inverted repeats (TIRs), and two major deletions. One of the deletions eliminated the 36-kb central region of the chromosome, but surprisingly did not affect viability of the cells. The other deletion (74-kb) was internal to the right chromosomal arm. The chromosome of another bald mutant, SA1-6, was circularized with deletions at both ends. No obvious homology was found in all fusion sequences. Generational stability analysis showed that the chromosomal structure of SA1-8 and SA1-6 was stable.

Conclusions

Various chromosomal rearrangements, including chromosomal arm replacement, interstitial deletions and chromosomal circularization, occurred in S. avermitilis by non-homologous recombination. The finding of an inner deletion involving in the central region of S. avermitilis chromosome suggests that the entire Streptomyces chromosome may be the target for rearrangements, which are not limited, as previously reported, to the two chromosomal ends.