Recent advances in activating silent biosynthetic gene clusters in bacteria.
The explosion of microbial genome sequences has shown that bacteria harbor an immense, largely untapped potential for the biosynthesis of diverse natural products, which have traditionally served as an important source of pharmaceutical compounds. Most of the biosynthetic genes that can be detected bioinformatically are not, or only weakly, expressed under standard laboratory growth conditions. Herein we review three recent approaches that have been developed for inducing these so-called silent biosynthetic gene cluster: insertion of constitutively active promoters using CRISPR-Cas9, high-throughput elicitor screening for identification of small molecule inducers, and reporter-guided mutant selection for creation of overproducing strains. Together with strategies implemented previously, these approaches promise to unleash the products of silent gene clusters in years to come.