Zwittermicin A biosynthetic cluster

Elizabeth A. Stohl, Jocelyn L. Milner, Jo Handelsman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to identify the biosynthetic cluster for zwittermicin A, a novel, broad spectrum, aminopolyol antibiotic produced by Bacillus cereus. The nucleotide sequence of 2.7 kb of DNA flanking the zwittermicin A self-resistance gene, zmaR, from B. cereus UW85 revealed three open reading frames (ORFs). Of these ORFs, two had sequence similarity to acyl-CoA dehydrogenases and polyketide synthases, respectively. Insertional inactivation demonstrated that orf2 is necessary for zwittermicin A production and that zmaR is necessary for high-level resistance to zwittermicin A but is not required for zwittermicin A production. Expression of ZmaR was temporally associated with zwittermicin A production. The results suggest that zmaR is part of a cluster of genes that is involved in zwittermicin A biosynthesis, representing the first biosynthetic pathway for an aminopolyol antibiotic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-411
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 17 1999


  • Acyl-CoA dehydrogenases
  • Acyltransferases
  • Polyketide synthases
  • Self-resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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