Breaking the silence: new strategies for discovering novel natural products

Hengqian Ren, Bin Wang, Huimin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Natural products have been a prolific source of antibacterial and anticancer drugs for decades. One of the major challenges in natural product discovery is that the vast majority of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) have not been characterized, partially due to the fact that they are either transcriptionally silent or expressed at very low levels under standard laboratory conditions. Here we describe the strategies developed in recent years (mostly between 2014–2016) for activating silent BGCs. These strategies can be broadly divided into two categories: approaches in native hosts and approaches in heterologous hosts. In addition, we briefly discuss recent advances in developing new computational tools for identification and characterization of BGCs and high-throughput methods for detection of natural products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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