Actinomycetes are remarkable producers of compounds essential for human and veterinary medicine as well as for agriculture. The genomes of those microorganisms possess several sets of genes (biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC)) encoding pathways for the production of the valuable secondary metabolites. A significant proportion of the identified BGCs in actinomycetes encode pathways for the biosynthesis of polyketide compounds, nonribosomal peptides, or hybrid products resulting from the combination of both polyketide synthases (PKSs) and nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs). The potency of these molecules, in terms of bioactivity, was recognized in the 1940s, and started the “Golden Age” of antimicrobial drug discovery. Since then, several valuable polyketide drugs, such as erythromycin A, tylosin, monensin A, rifamycin, tetracyclines, amphotericin B, and many others were isolated from actinomycetes. This review covers the most relevant actinomycetes-derived polyketide drugs with antimicrobial activity, including anti-fungal agents. We provide an overview of the source of the compounds, structure of the molecules, the biosynthetic principle, bioactivity and mechanisms of action, and the current stage of development. This review emphasizes the importance of actinomycetes-derived antimicrobial polyketides and should serve as a “lexicon”, not only to scientists from the Natural Products field, but also to clinicians and others interested in this topic.
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