BACKGROUND : Bleomycin is a broad-spectrum glycopeptide antitumor antibiotic produced by Streptomyces verticillus. Clinically, the mixture of bleomycin A2 and bleomycin B2 is widely used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of various cancers. As a secondary metabolite, the biosynthesis of bleomycin is precisely controlled by the complex extra-/intracellular regulation mechanisms, it is imperative to investigate the global metabolic and regulatory system involved in bleomycin biosynthesis for increasing bleomycin production. RESULTS : N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), the vital signaling molecule controlling the onset of development and antibiotic synthesis in Streptomyces, was found to increase the yields of bleomycins significantly in chemically defined medium. To mine the gene information relevant to GlcNAc metabolism, the DNA sequences of dasR-dasA-dasBCD-nagB and nagKA in S. verticillus were determined by chromosome walking. From the results of Real time fluorescence quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs), the repression of the expression of nagB and nagKA by the global regulator DasR was released under induction with GlcNAc. The relief of blmT expression repression by BlmR was the main reason for increased bleomycin production. DasR, however, could not directly affect the expression of the pathway-specific repressor BlmR in the bleomycins gene cluster. With at the beginning of bleomycin synthesis, the supply of the specific precursor GDP-mannose played the key role in bleomycin production. Genetic engineering of the GDP-mannose synthesis pathway indicated that phosphomannose isomerase (ManA) and phosphomannomutase (ManB) were key enzymes for bleomycins synthesis. Here, the blmT, manA and manB co-expression strain OBlmT/ManAB was constructed. Based on GlcNAc regulation and assisted metabolic profiling analysis, the yields of bleomycin A2 and B2 were ultimately increased to 61.79 and 36.9 mg/L, respectively. CONCLUSIONS : Under GlcNAc induction, the elevated production of bleomycins was mainly associated with the alleviation of the inhibition of BlmT, so blmT and specific precursor synthesis pathways were genetically engineered for bleomycins production improvement. Combination with subsequent metabolomics analysis not only effectively increased the bleomycin yield, but also extended the utilization of chitin-derived substrates in microbial-based antibiotic production.