Deciphering chemical mediators regulating specialized metabolism in a symbiotic cyanobacterium.
Genomes of cyanobacteria feature a variety of cryptic biosynthetic pathways for complex natural products, but the peculiarities limiting the discovery and exploitation of the metabolic dark matter are not well understood. Here we describe the discovery of two cell density-dependent chemical mediators, nostoclide and nostovalerolactone, in the symbiotic model strain Nostoc punctiforme, and demonstrate their pronounced impact on the regulation of specialized metabolism. Through transcriptional, bioinformatic and labeling studies we assigned two adjacent biosynthetic gene clusters to the biosynthesis of the two polyketide mediators. Our findings provide insight into the orchestration of specialized metabolite production and give lessons for the genomic mining and high-titer production of cyanobacterial bioactive compounds.