Streptomyces glaucescens, a Gram-positive soil bacterium, produces the polyketide antibiotic tetracenomycin (Tcm) C. To study possible biochemical connections between the biosynthesis of bacterial fatty acids and polyketides, the abundant acyl carrier protein (ACP) detected throughout the growth of the tetracenomycin (Tcm) C-producing S. glaucescens was purified to homogeneity and found to behave like many other ACPs from bacteria and plants (apparent M(r) of 20,000 on gel filtration chromatography, apparent M(r) of 3400-4800 on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under reducing conditions, and pI approximately 3.8). By using an oligodeoxynucleotide synthesized in accordance with the sequence of residues 25-36 of the ACP, the fabC gene encoding this protein was cloned, and expression of this gene in Escherichia coli yielded the ACP entirely as the active holoenzyme. Sequence analysis of 4.3 kilobases (kb) of DNA flanking fabC revealed the presence of three other genes oriented in the same transcriptional direction in the order fabD, fabH, fabC, and fabB. Each of the four genes is predicted to encode proteins with high sequence similarity to the following components of the E. coli fatty acid synthase (FAS): the FabD malonyl-coenzyme A:ACP acyltransferase (MAT), FabH 3-oxoacyl:ACP synthase III, AcpP ACP, and FabB 3-oxoacyl:ACP synthase I. Expression of the S. glaucescens fabD gene in E. coli produced active MAT able to catalyze in vitro the transfer of radioactive malonate from malonyl-coenzyme A to the E. coli AcpP and S. glaucescens FabC ACPs, as well as to the TcmM ACP component of the Tcm type II polyketide synthase [Shen, B., et al. (1992) J. Bacteriol 174, 3818-3821]. Expression of fabD also restored the high-temperature growth of the E. coli fabD89 mutant that bears a temperature-sensitive MAT. The latter finding and the close similarity between the organization of the S. glaucescens fabDHCB and E. coli FAS-encoding genes (fabH/fabD/fabG/acpP/fabF) suggest that the S. glaucescens genes encode FAS enzymes. Moreover, on the basis of its in vitro activity, it is possible that the S. glaucescens FabD MAT is responsible for charging the TcmM ACP with malonate in vivo, a key step in the synthesis of the deca(polyketide) precursor of Tcm C. This implies the existence of a functional connection between fatty acid and polyketide metabolism in this bacterium.