Altered desferrioxamine-mediated iron utilization is a common trait of bald mutants of Streptomyces coelicolor
Streptomyces coelicolor is an important model organism for developmental studies of filamentous GC-rich actinobacteria. The genetic characterization of mutants of S. coelicolor blocked at the vegetative mycelium stage, the so-called bald (bld) mutants that are unable to erect spore-forming aerial hyphae, has opened the way to discovering the molecular basis of development in actinomycetes. Desferrioxamine (DFO) production and import of ferrioxamines (FO; iron-complexed DFO) are key to triggering morphogenesis of S. coelicolor and we show here that growth of S. coelicolor on the reference medium for Streptomyces developmental studies is fully dependent on DFO biosynthesis. UPLC-ESI-MS analysis revealed that all bld mutants tested are affected in DFO biosynthesis, with bldA, bldJ, and ptsH mutants severely impaired in DFO production, while bldF, bldK, crr and ptsI mutants overproduce DFO. Morphogenesis of bldK and bldJ mutants was recovered by supplying exogenous iron. Transcript analysis showed that the bldJ mutant is impaired in expression of genes involved in the uptake of FO, whereas transcription of genes involved in both DFO biosynthesis and FO uptake is increased in bldK mutants. Our study allows proposing altered DFO production and/or FO uptake as a novel phenotypic marker of many S. coelicolor bld mutants, and strengthens the role of siderophores and iron acquisition in morphological development of actinomycetes.