In streptomycetes, the branched-chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine may serve as precursors for commercially important polyketides, and it is of interest to investigate whether the availability of these amino acids affects the production of the secondary metabolites derived from them. This paper reports studies on end-product control in the model organism of the enzymes acetohydroxy acid synthase (AHAS) and isopropylmalate synthase (IPMS), mediating steps in the pathways to isoleucine-valine and leucine respectively. Specific activities of both enzymes were similarly affected when minimal medium was supplemented with the amino acids singly or in combination. Isoleucine alone caused a 2- to 3-fold increase, while all three amino acids caused a 5- to 8-fold decrease. Growth of an auxotroph in media with limiting isoleucine gave enzyme specific activities 4- to 6-fold higher than in unsupplemented minimal medium. Spontaneous mutants were obtained by growing on minimal medium containing 4-azaleucine. At least four patterns of end-product control were found among the mutants, one of which showed high constitutive levels of both enzymes (7- and 15-fold above unsupplemented minimal medium values for AHAS and IPMS respectively). It is concluded that the variation in specific activities of the two enzymes under different physiological and genetic conditions spans a range of around 50 to 100, and that has molecular mechanisms capable of producing this response.


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