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Clavulanic acid (CA) is a potent β-lactamase inhibitor produced by Streptomyces clavuligerus and has been successfully used in combination with β-lactam antibiotics (for example, Augmentin) to treat infections caused by β-lactamase-producing pathogens. Since the discovery of CA in the late 1970s, significant information has accumulated on its biosynthesis, and regarding molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of its production. Notably, the genes directing CA biosynthesis are clustered along with the genes responsible for the biosynthesis of the β-lactam antibiotic, cephamycin C, and co-regulated, which makes this organism unique in that the production of an antibiotic and production of a small molecule to protect the antibiotic from its enzymatic degradation are controlled by shared mechanisms. Traditionally, the industrial strain improvement programs have relied significantly on random mutagenesis and selection approach. However, the recent availability of the genome sequence of S. clavuligerus along with the capability to build metabolic models, and ability to engineer the organism by directed approaches, has created exciting opportunities to improve strain productivity more efficiently. This review will include focus mainly on the gene organization of the CA biosynthetic genes, regulatory mechanisms that affect its production, and will include perspectives on improving strain productivity.


Ashish Paradkar. Clavulanic acid production by Streptomyces clavuligerus: biogenesis, regulation and strain improvement. The Journal of antibiotics. 2013 Jul;66(7):411-20

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PMID: 23612724

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