Species of the genus Streptomyces are of major pharmaceutical interest because they synthesize a variety of bioactive secondary metabolites. We have determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the linear chromosome of Streptomyces avermitilis. S. avermitilis produces avermectins, a group of antiparasitic agents used in human and veterinary medicine. The genome contains 9,025,608 bases (average GC content, 70.7%) and encodes at least 7,574 potential open reading frames (ORFs). Thirty-five percent of the ORFs (2,664) constitute 721 paralogous families. Thirty gene clusters related to secondary metabolite biosynthesis were identified, corresponding to 6.6% of the genome. Comparison with Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) revealed that an internal 6.5-Mb region in the S. avermitilis genome was highly conserved with respect to gene order and content, and contained all known essential genes but showed perfectly asymmetric structure at the oriC center. In contrast, the terminal regions were not conserved and preferentially contained nonessential genes.
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