skip to content


Department of Biochemistry


An increasing number of the gene clusters responsible for the biosynthesis of polyketide antibiotics have been discovered. The gene cluster responsible for the biosynthesis of erythromycin was the first example of a type I PKS to be discovered. This cluster consists of 3 massive PKS genes (approximately 30 kbp in total size which encode for DEBS1, DEBS2 and DEBS3) and 19 non-PKS genes. The organisation of the genes in the erythromycin producing cluster is shown below.


In addition to the sequencing of PKS clusters, the entire genome of certain Streptomyces bacteria have been sequenced. In conjunction with the Department of Biochemistry DNA Sequencing Facility, we recently published the entire sequence of Saccharopolyspora erythraea, an erythromycin-producing bacterium.

For further details regarding our work on the biosynthesis of polyketides the following reviews are recommended.

Weissman, K. J. and Leadlay, P. F. (2005) Combinatorial biosynthesis of reduced polyketides. Nature Reviews Microbiol. 3, 925-936.
Staunton, J. and Weissman, K. J. Natural Product Reports, 2001, 18, 380