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Direct Capture Technologies for Genomics-Guided Discovery of Natural Products

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Microbes are important producers of natural products, which have played key roles in understanding biology and treating disease. However, the full potential of microbes to produce natural products has yet to be realized; the overwhelming majority of natural product gene clusters encoded in microbial genomes remain “cryptic”, and have not been expressed or characterized. In contrast to the fast-growing number of genomic sequences and bioinformatic tools, methods to connect these genes to natural product molecules are still limited, creating a bottleneck in genome-mining efforts to discover novel natural products. Here we review developing technologies that leverage the power of homologous recombination to directly capture natural product gene clusters and express them in model hosts for isolation and structural characterization. Although direct capture is still in its early stages of development, it has been successfully utilized in several different classes of natural products. These early successes will be reviewed, and the methods will be compared and contrasted with existing traditional technologies. Lastly, we will discuss the opportunities for the development of direct capture in other organisms, and possibilities to integrate direct capture with emerging genome-editing techniques to accelerate future study of natural products.
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Keywords: Direct capture; ET recombination; Genomics; Homologous recombination; Lambda red; Natural products; Transformation- associated recombination

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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