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1.  Gene cluster analysis for the biosynthesis of elgicins, novel lantibiotics produced by paenibacillus elgii B69 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:45.
The recent increase in bacterial resistance to antibiotics has promoted the exploration of novel antibacterial materials. As a result, many researchers are undertaking work to identify new lantibiotics because of their potent antimicrobial activities. The objective of this study was to provide details of a lantibiotic-like gene cluster in Paenibacillus elgii B69 and to produce the antibacterial substances coded by this gene cluster based on culture screening.
Analysis of the P. elgii B69 genome sequence revealed the presence of a lantibiotic-like gene cluster composed of five open reading frames (elgT1, elgC, elgT2, elgB, and elgA). Screening of culture extracts for active substances possessing the predicted properties of the encoded product led to the isolation of four novel peptides (elgicins AI, AII, B, and C) with a broad inhibitory spectrum. The molecular weights of these peptides were 4536, 4593, 4706, and 4820 Da, respectively. The N-terminal sequence of elgicin B was Leu-Gly-Asp-Tyr, which corresponded to the partial sequence of the peptide ElgA encoded by elgA. Edman degradation suggested that the product elgicin B is derived from ElgA. By correlating the results of electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry analyses of elgicins AI, AII, and C, these peptides are deduced to have originated from the same precursor, ElgA.
A novel lantibiotic-like gene cluster was shown to be present in P. elgii B69. Four new lantibiotics with a broad inhibitory spectrum were isolated, and these appear to be promising antibacterial agents.
PMCID: PMC3337247  PMID: 22443157
2.  Identification and functional analysis of gene cluster involvement in biosynthesis of the cyclic lipopeptide antibiotic pelgipeptin produced by Paenibacillus elgii 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:197.
Pelgipeptin, a potent antibacterial and antifungal agent, is a non-ribosomally synthesised lipopeptide antibiotic. This compound consists of a β-hydroxy fatty acid and nine amino acids. To date, there is no information about its biosynthetic pathway.
A potential pelgipeptin synthetase gene cluster (plp) was identified from Paenibacillus elgii B69 through genome analysis. The gene cluster spans 40.8 kb with eight open reading frames. Among the genes in this cluster, three large genes, plpD, plpE, and plpF, were shown to encode non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs), with one, seven, and one module(s), respectively. Bioinformatic analysis of the substrate specificity of all nine adenylation domains indicated that the sequence of the NRPS modules is well collinear with the order of amino acids in pelgipeptin. Additional biochemical analysis of four recombinant adenylation domains (PlpD A1, PlpE A1, PlpE A3, and PlpF A1) provided further evidence that the plp gene cluster involved in pelgipeptin biosynthesis.
In this study, a gene cluster (plp) responsible for the biosynthesis of pelgipeptin was identified from the genome sequence of Paenibacillus elgii B69. The identification of the plp gene cluster provides an opportunity to develop novel lipopeptide antibiotics by genetic engineering.
PMCID: PMC3479019  PMID: 22958453
Non-ribosomal peptide; Biosynthesis; Gene cluster; Antimicrobial agent
3.  Draft Genome Sequence of Paenibacillus elgiiB69, a Strain with Broad Antimicrobial Activity ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(17):4537.
Here, we report the draft genome sequence of Paenibacillus elgiiB69, which was isolated from soil and has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. As far as we know, the P. elgiigenome is the largest of the Paenibacillusgenus for which genome sequences are available. Multiple sets of genes related to antibiotic biosynthetic pathways have been found in the genome.
PMCID: PMC3165517  PMID: 21705583
4.  Novel LanT Associated Lantibiotic Clusters Identified by Genome Database Mining 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91352.
Frequent use of antibiotics has led to the emergence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Lantibiotic compounds are ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptides against which bacteria are not able to produce resistance, hence making them a good alternative to antibiotics. Nisin is the oldest and the most widely used lantibiotic, in food preservation, without having developed any significant resistance against it. Having their antimicrobial potential and a limited number, there is a need to identify novel lantibiotics.
Identification of novel lantibiotic biosynthetic clusters from an ever increasing database of bacterial genomes, can provide a major lead in this direction. In order to achieve this, a strategy was adopted to identify novel lantibiotic biosynthetic clusters by screening the sequenced genomes for LanT homolog, which is a conserved lantibiotic transporter specific to type IB clusters. This strategy resulted in identification of 54 bacterial strains containing the LanT homologs, which are not the known lantibiotic producers. Of these, 24 strains were subjected to a detailed bioinformatic analysis to identify genes encoding for precursor peptides, modification enzyme, immunity and quorum sensing proteins. Eight clusters having two LanM determinants, similar to haloduracin and lichenicidin were identified, along with 13 clusters having a single LanM determinant as in mersacidin biosynthetic cluster. Besides these, orphan LanT homologs were also identified which might be associated with novel bacteriocins, encoded somewhere else in the genome. Three identified gene clusters had a C39 domain containing LanT transporter, associated with the LanBC proteins and double glycine type precursor peptides, the only known example of such a cluster is that of salivaricin.
This study led to the identification of 8 novel putative two-component lantibiotic clusters along with 13 having a single LanM and 3 with LanBC genes. Putative lantibiotic clusters identified here hold the potential for the discovery of novel lantibiotic(s).
PMCID: PMC3951391  PMID: 24621781
5.  Restoration of Bioactive Lantibiotic Suicin from a Remnant lan Locus of Pathogenic Streptococcus suis Serotype 2 
Lantibiotics are ribosomally synthesized, posttranslationally modified antimicrobial peptides. Their biosynthesis genes are usually organized in gene clusters, which are mainly found in Gram-positive bacteria, including pathogenic streptococci. Three highly virulent Streptococcus suis serotype 2 strains (98HAH33, 05ZYH33, and SC84) have been shown to contain an 89K pathogenicity island. Here, on these islands, we unveiled and reannotated a putative lantibiotic locus designated sui which contains a virulence-associated two-component regulator, suiK-suiR. In silico analysis revealed that the putative lantibiotic modification gene suiM was interrupted by a 7.9-kb integron and that other biosynthesis-related genes contained various frameshift mutations. By reconstituting the intact suiM in Escherichia coli together with a semi-in vitro biosynthesis system, a putative lantibiotic named suicin was produced with bactericidal activities against a variety of Gram-positive strains, including pathogenic streptococci and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Ring topology dissection indicated that the 34-amino-acid lantibiotic contained two methyllanthionine residues and one disulfide bridge, which render suicin in an N-terminal linear and C-terminal globular shape. To confirm the function of suiK-suiR, SuiR was overexpressed and purified. In vitro analysis showed that SuiR could specifically bind to the suiA gene promoter. Its coexpression with suiK could activate suiA gene promoter in Lactococcus lactis NZ9000. Conclusively, we obtained a novel lantibiotic suicin by restoring its production from the remnant sui locus and demonstrated that virulence-associated SuiK-SuiR regulates its production.
PMCID: PMC3911220  PMID: 24271178
6.  Characterization of Amylolysin, a Novel Lantibiotic from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens GA1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83037.
Lantibiotics are heat-stable peptides characterized by the presence of thioether amino acid lanthionine and methyllanthionine. They are capable to inhibit the growth of Gram-positive bacteria, including Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus or Bacillus cereus, the causative agents of food-borne diseases or nosocomial infections. Lantibiotic biosynthetic machinery is encoded by gene cluster composed by a structural gene that codes for a pre-lantibiotic peptide and other genes involved in pre-lantibiotic modifications, regulation, export and immunity.
Bacillus amyloliquefaciens GA1 was found to produce an antimicrobial peptide, named amylolysin, active on an array of Gram-positive bacteria, including methicillin resistant S. aureus. Genome characterization led to the identification of a putative lantibiotic gene cluster that comprises a structural gene (amlA) and genes involved in modification (amlM), transport (amlT), regulation (amlKR) and immunity (amlFE). Disruption of amlA led to loss of biological activity, confirming thus that the identified gene cluster is related to amylolysin synthesis. MALDI-TOF and LC-MS analysis on purified amylolysin demonstrated that this latter corresponds to a novel lantibiotic not described to date. The ability of amylolysin to interact in vitro with the lipid II, the carrier of peptidoglycan monomers across the cytoplasmic membrane and the presence of a unique modification gene suggest that the identified peptide belongs to the group B lantibiotic. Amylolysin immunity seems to be driven by only two AmlF and AmlE proteins, which is uncommon within the Bacillus genus.
Apart from mersacidin produced by Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strains Y2 and HIL Y-85,544728, reports on the synthesis of type B-lantibiotic in this species are scarce. This study reports on a genetic and structural characterization of another representative of the type B lantibiotic in B. amyloliquefaciens.
PMCID: PMC3857288  PMID: 24349428
7.  Comparative Genomic Analysis of N2-Fixing and Non-N2-Fixing Paenibacillus spp.: Organization, Evolution and Expression of the Nitrogen Fixation Genes 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004231.
We provide here a comparative genome analysis of 31 strains within the genus Paenibacillus including 11 new genomic sequences of N2-fixing strains. The heterogeneity of the 31 genomes (15 N2-fixing and 16 non-N2-fixing Paenibacillus strains) was reflected in the large size of the shell genome, which makes up approximately 65.2% of the genes in pan genome. Large numbers of transposable elements might be related to the heterogeneity. We discovered that a minimal and compact nif cluster comprising nine genes nifB, nifH, nifD, nifK, nifE, nifN, nifX, hesA and nifV encoding Mo-nitrogenase is conserved in the 15 N2-fixing strains. The nif cluster is under control of a σ70-depedent promoter and possesses a GlnR/TnrA-binding site in the promoter. Suf system encoding [Fe–S] cluster is highly conserved in N2-fixing and non-N2-fixing strains. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the nif cluster enabled Escherichia coli JM109 to fix nitrogen. Phylogeny of the concatenated NifHDK sequences indicates that Paenibacillus and Frankia are sister groups. Phylogeny of the concatenated 275 single-copy core genes suggests that the ancestral Paenibacillus did not fix nitrogen. The N2-fixing Paenibacillus strains were generated by acquiring the nif cluster via horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from a source related to Frankia. During the history of evolution, the nif cluster was lost, producing some non-N2-fixing strains, and vnf encoding V-nitrogenase or anf encoding Fe-nitrogenase was acquired, causing further diversification of some strains. In addition, some N2-fixing strains have additional nif and nif-like genes which may result from gene duplications. The evolution of nitrogen fixation in Paenibacillus involves a mix of gain, loss, HGT and duplication of nif/anf/vnf genes. This study not only reveals the organization and distribution of nitrogen fixation genes in Paenibacillus, but also provides insight into the complex evolutionary history of nitrogen fixation.
Author Summary
We sequenced the genomes of 11 N2-fixing Paenibacillus strains and demonstrated the genomic diversity of the genus Paenibacillus by comparing these strains to each other and to 20 other strains (4 N2-fixing and 16 non-N2-fixing strains) that were sequenced previously. Phylogenetic analysis of the concatenated 275 single-copy core genes suggests that ancestral Paenibacillus did not fix nitrogen and the N2-fixing strains fall into two sub-groups, which were likely originated from a N2-fixing common ancestor. A minimal and compact nif cluster comprising nine nif genes encoding Mo-nitrogenase is highly conserved in the 15 N2-fixing strains. Variations in the nif cluster and in the chromosomal regions surrounding the nif cluster between two sub-groups imply at least two independent acquisitions with insertion of distinct nif cluster variants in different genomic sites of Paenibacillus in early evolutionary history. Phylogeny of the concatenated NifHDK sequences suggests that Paenibacillus and Frankia are sister groups. The nif cluster, a functional unit for nitrogen fixation, was lost, producing some non-N2-fixing strains. There were recent events of acquisition of vnf and anf genes, causing further diversification of some strains. The evolution of nitrogen fixation in Paenibacillus involves a mix of gain, loss, HGT and duplication of nif/anf/vnf genes.
PMCID: PMC3961195  PMID: 24651173
8.  Cloning and Analysis of the Planosporicin Lantibiotic Biosynthetic Gene Cluster of Planomonospora alba 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(10):2309-2321.
The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens has renewed focus on natural products with antimicrobial properties. Lantibiotics are ribosomally synthesized peptide antibiotics that are posttranslationally modified to introduce (methyl)lanthionine bridges. Actinomycetes are renowned for their ability to produce a large variety of antibiotics, many with clinical applications, but are known to make only a few lantibiotics. One such compound is planosporicin produced by Planomonospora alba, which inhibits cell wall biosynthesis in Gram-positive pathogens. Planosporicin is a type AI lantibiotic structurally similar to those which bind lipid II, the immediate precursor for cell wall biosynthesis. The gene cluster responsible for planosporicin biosynthesis was identified by genome mining and subsequently isolated from a P. alba cosmid library. A minimal cluster of 15 genes sufficient for planosporicin production was defined by heterologous expression in Nonomuraea sp. strain ATCC 39727, while deletion of the gene encoding the precursor peptide from P. alba, which abolished planosporicin production, was also used to confirm the identity of the gene cluster. Deletion of genes encoding likely biosynthetic enzymes identified through bioinformatic analysis revealed that they, too, are essential for planosporicin production in the native host. Reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) analysis indicated that the planosporicin gene cluster is transcribed in three operons. Expression of one of these, pspEF, which encodes an ABC transporter, in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) conferred some degree of planosporicin resistance on the heterologous host. The inability to delete these genes from P. alba suggests that they play an essential role in immunity in the natural producer.
PMCID: PMC3650528  PMID: 23475977
9.  A Minimal Nitrogen Fixation Gene Cluster from Paenibacillus sp. WLY78 Enables Expression of Active Nitrogenase in Escherichia coli 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003865.
Most biological nitrogen fixation is catalyzed by molybdenum-dependent nitrogenase, an enzyme complex comprising two component proteins that contains three different metalloclusters. Diazotrophs contain a common core of nitrogen fixation nif genes that encode the structural subunits of the enzyme and components required to synthesize the metalloclusters. However, the complement of nif genes required to enable diazotrophic growth varies significantly amongst nitrogen fixing bacteria and archaea. In this study, we identified a minimal nif gene cluster consisting of nine nif genes in the genome of Paenibacillus sp. WLY78, a gram-positive, facultative anaerobe isolated from the rhizosphere of bamboo. We demonstrate that the nif genes in this organism are organized as an operon comprising nifB, nifH, nifD, nifK, nifE, nifN, nifX, hesA and nifV and that the nif cluster is under the control of a σ70 (σA)-dependent promoter located upstream of nifB. To investigate genetic requirements for diazotrophy, we transferred the Paenibacillus nif cluster to Escherichia coli. The minimal nif gene cluster enables synthesis of catalytically active nitrogenase in this host, when expressed either from the native nifB promoter or from the T7 promoter. Deletion analysis indicates that in addition to the core nif genes, hesA plays an important role in nitrogen fixation and is responsive to the availability of molybdenum. Whereas nif transcription in Paenibacillus is regulated in response to nitrogen availability and by the external oxygen concentration, transcription from the nifB promoter is constitutive in E. coli, indicating that negative regulation of nif transcription is bypassed in the heterologous host. This study demonstrates the potential for engineering nitrogen fixation in a non-nitrogen fixing organism with a minimum set of nine nif genes.
Author Summary
Biological nitrogen fixation plays an essential role in the nitrogen cycle, sustaining agricultural productivity by providing a source of fixed nitrogen for plants and ultimately animals. The enzyme nitrogenase that catalyses the reduction of atmospheric dinitrogen to ammonia contains one of the most complex heterometal cofactors found in biology. Biosynthesis of nitrogenase and provision of support for its activity requires a large number of nitrogen fixation (nif) genes, which vary according to the physiological lifestyle of the host organism. In this study, we identified a nif cluster with reduced genetic complexity, consisting of nine genes organized as a single operon in the genome of Paenibacillus sp. WLY78. When transferred to Escherichia coli, the Paenibacllus nif cluster enables synthesis of catalytically active nitrogenase, which is competent to reduce both acetylene and dinitrogen as substrates of the enzyme. Environmental regulation of nif gene expression in Paenibacillus, in response to either oxygen or fixed nitrogen, is circumvented when the nif operon is expressed from its native promoter in E. coli, suggesting that nif transcription in Paenibacillus is negatively regulated in response to these effectors.
PMCID: PMC3798268  PMID: 24146630
10.  Identification of a Novel Two-Peptide Lantibiotic, Lichenicidin, following Rational Genome Mining for LanM Proteins▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(17):5451-5460.
Lantibiotics are ribosomally synthesized peptide antimicrobials which contain considerable posttranslational modifications. Given their usually broad host range and their highly stable structures, there have been renewed attempts to identify and characterize novel members of the lantibiotic family in recent years. The increasing availability of bacterial genome sequences means that in addition to traditional microbiological approaches, in silico screening strategies may now be employed to the same end. Taking advantage of the highly conserved nature of lantibiotic biosynthetic enzymes, we screened publicly available microbial genome sequences for genes encoding LanM proteins, which are required for the posttranslational modification of type 2 lantibiotics. By using this approach, 89 LanM homologs, including 61 in strains not known to be lantibiotic producers, were identified. Of these strains, five (Streptococcus pneumoniae SP23-BS72, Bacillus licheniformis ATCC 14580, Anabaena variabilis ATCC 29413, Geobacillus thermodenitrificans NG80-2, and Herpetosiphon aurantiacus ATCC 23779) were subjected to a more detailed bioinformatic analysis. Four of the strains possessed genes potentially encoding a structural peptide in close proximity to the lanM determinants, while two, S. pneumoniae SP23-BS72 and B. licheniformis ATCC 14580, possess two potential structural genes. The B. licheniformis strain was selected for a proof-of-concept exercise, which established that a two-peptide lantibiotic, lichenicidin, which exhibits antimicrobial activity against all Listeria monocytogenes, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus strains tested, was indeed produced, thereby confirming the benefits of such a bioinformatic approach when screening for novel lantibiotic producers.
PMCID: PMC2737927  PMID: 19561184
11.  Isolation, Characterization, and Heterologous Expression of the Novel Lantibiotic Epicidin 280 and Analysis of Its Biosynthetic Gene Cluster 
Epicidin 280 is a novel type A lantibiotic produced by Staphylococcus epidermidis BN 280. During C18 reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography two epicidin 280 peaks were obtained; the two compounds had molecular masses of 3,133 ± 1.5 and 3,136 ± 1.5 Da, comparable antibiotic activities, and identical amino acid compositions. Amino acid sequence analysis revealed that epicidin 280 exhibits 75% similarity to Pep5. The strains that produce epicidin 280 and Pep5 exhibit cross-immunity, indicating that the immunity peptides cross-function in antagonization of both lantibiotics. The complete epicidin 280 gene cluster was cloned and was found to comprise at least five open reading frames (eciI, eciA, eciP, eciB, and eciC, in that order). The proteins encoded by these open reading frames exhibit significant sequence similarity to the biosynthetic proteins of the Pep5 operon of Staphylococcus epidermidis 5. A gene for an ABC transporter, which is present in the Pep5 gene cluster but is necessary only for high yields (G. Bierbaum, M. Reis, C. Szekat, and H.-G. Sahl, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60:4332–4338, 1994), was not detected. Instead, upstream of the immunity gene eciI we found an open reading frame, eciO, which could code for a novel lantibiotic modification enzyme involved in reduction of an N-terminally located oxopropionyl residue. Epicidin 280 produced by the heterologous host Staphylococcus carnosus TM 300 after introduction of eciIAPBC (i.e., no eciO was present) behaved homogeneously during reverse-phase chromatography.
PMCID: PMC106701  PMID: 9726851
12.  Isolation and Identification of a Paenibacillus polymyxa Strain That Coproduces a Novel Lantibiotic and Polymyxin▿ †  
A new bacterial strain, displaying potent antimicrobial properties against gram-negative and gram-positive pathogenic bacteria, was isolated from food. Based on its phenotypical and biochemical properties as well as its 16S rRNA gene sequence, the bacterium was identified as Paenibacillus polymyxa and it was designated as strain OSY-DF. The antimicrobials produced by this strain were isolated from the fermentation broth and subsequently analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Two antimicrobials were found: a known antibiotic, polymyxin E1, which is active against gram-negative bacteria, and an unknown 2,983-Da compound showing activity against gram-positive bacteria. The latter was purified to homogeneity, and its antimicrobial potency and proteinaceous nature were confirmed. The antimicrobial peptide, designated paenibacillin, is active against a broad range of food-borne pathogenic and spoilage bacteria, including Bacillus spp., Clostridium sporogenes, Lactobacillus spp., Lactococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Listeria spp., Pediococcus cerevisiae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus agalactiae. Furthermore, it possesses the physico-chemical properties of an ideal antimicrobial agent in terms of water solubility, thermal resistance, and stability against acid/alkali (pH 2.0 to 9.0) treatment. Edman degradation, mass spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance were used to sequence native and chemically modified paenibacillin. While details of the tentative sequence need to be elucidated in future work, the peptide was unequivocally characterized as a novel lantibiotic, with a high degree of posttranslational modifications. The coproduction of polymyxin E1 and a lantibiotic is a finding that has not been reported earlier. The new strain and associated peptide are potentially useful in food and medical applications.
PMCID: PMC1797129  PMID: 17071789
13.  Feed-Forward Regulation of Microbisporicin Biosynthesis in Microbispora corallina ▿ ‡ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(12):3064-3071.
Lantibiotics are ribosomally synthesized, posttranslationally modified peptide antibiotics. Microbisporicin is a potent lantibiotic produced by the actinomycete Microbispora corallina and contains unique chlorinated tryptophan and dihydroxyproline residues. The biosynthetic gene cluster for microbisporicin encodes several putative regulatory proteins, including, uniquely, an extracytoplasmic function (ECF) σ factor, σMibX, a likely cognate anti-σ factor, MibW, and a potential helix-turn-helix DNA binding protein, MibR. Here we examine the roles of these proteins in regulating microbisporicin biosynthesis. S1 nuclease protection assays were used to determine transcriptional start sites in the microbisporicin gene cluster and confirmed the presence of the likely ECF sigma factor −10 and −35 sequences in five out of six promoters. In contrast, the promoter of mibA, encoding the microbisporicin prepropeptide, has a typical Streptomyces vegetative sigma factor consensus sequence. The ECF sigma factor σMibX was shown to interact with the putative anti-sigma factor MibW in Escherichia coli using bacterial two-hybrid analysis. σMibX autoregulates its own expression but does not directly regulate expression of mibA. On the basis of quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) data, we propose a model for the biosynthesis of microbisporicin in which MibR functions as an essential master regulator and the ECF sigma factor/anti-sigma factor pair, σMibX/MibW, induces feed-forward biosynthesis of microbisporicin and producer immunity.
PMCID: PMC3133186  PMID: 21478362
14.  Inorganic phosphate is a trigger factor for Microbispora sp. ATCC-PTA-5024 growth and NAI-107 production 
Microbial Cell Factories  2014;13(1):133.
NAI-107, produced by the actinomycete Microbispora sp. ATCC-PTA-5024, is a promising lantibiotic active against Gram-positive bacteria and currently in late preclinical-phase. Lantibiotics (lanthionine-containing antibiotics) are ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs), encoded by structural genes as precursor peptides.
The biosynthesis of biologically active compounds is developmentally controlled and it depends upon a variety of environmental stimuli and conditions. Inorganic phosphate (Pi) usually negatively regulates biologically-active molecule production in Actinomycetes, while it has been reported to have a positive control on lantibiotic production in Firmicutes strains. So far, no information is available concerning the Pi effect on lantibiotic biosynthesis in Actinomycetes.
After having developed a suitable defined medium, Pi-limiting conditions were established and confirmed by quantitative analysis of polyphosphate accumulation and of expression of selected Pho regulon genes, involved in the Pi-limitation stress response. Then, the effect of Pi on Microbispora growth and NAI-107 biosynthesis was investigated in a defined medium containing increasing Pi amounts. Altogether, our analyses revealed that phosphate is necessary for growth and positively influences both growth and NAI-107 production up to a concentration of 5 mM. Higher Pi concentrations were not found to further stimulate Microbispora growth and NAI-107 production.
These results, on one hand, enlarge the knowledge on Microbispora physiology, and, on the other one, could be helpful to develop a robust and economically feasible production process of NAI-107 as a drug for human use.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-014-0133-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4203916  PMID: 25300322
Ribosomal Post-translationally modified Peptides (RiPPs); Phosphate; PhoP-PhoR; Polyphosphate
15.  Transcription Analysis of a Lantibiotic Gene Cluster from Bifidobacterium longum DJO10A▿ 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(17):5879-5887.
Bifidobacterium longum DJO10A was previously demonstrated to produce a lantibiotic, but only during growth on agar media. To evaluate the feasibility of production of this lantibiotic in broth media, a transcription analysis of the lanA gene was undertaken. Comparative microarray analysis of broth and agar cultures of B. longum DJO10A revealed that the lantibiotic production, modification, transport/peptidase, and immunity genes were significantly upregulated in agar cultures, while the two-component regulatory genes were expressed equally under both conditions. This suggested that the signal transduction regulatory system should function in broth cultures. Real-time PCR and Northern hybridization confirmed that lanA gene expression was significantly repressed in broth cultures. A crude lantibiotic preparation from an agar-grown culture was obtained, and its antimicrobial spectrum analysis revealed a broad inhibition range. Addition of this extract to broth cultures of B. longum DJO10A induced lanA gene expression in a dose-dependent fashion. Subinoculation using >10% of an induced broth culture maintained lanA expression. The expression of lanA was log-phase specific, being significantly downregulated in stationary phase. Transcription start analysis of lanA revealed a 284-bp 5′ untranslated region, which was proposed to be involved in repression of transcription, while an inverted repeat structure located at bp −75 relative to the transcription start was strategically located to likely function as a binding site for the two-component response regulator. Understanding the transcription regulation of this lanA gene is the first step toward enabling production of this novel and potentially interesting lantibiotic in broth cultures.
PMCID: PMC3165390  PMID: 21742926
16.  Construction of an Expression System for Site-Directed Mutagenesis of the Lantibiotic Mersacidin 
The lantibiotic (i.e., lanthionine-containing antibiotic) mersacidin is an antimicrobial peptide of 20 amino acids which is produced by Bacillus sp. strain HIL Y-85,54728. Mersacidin inhibits bacterial cell wall biosynthesis by binding to the precursor molecule lipid II. The structural gene of mersacidin (mrsA) and the genes for the enzymes of the biosynthesis pathway, dedicated transporters, producer self-protection proteins, and regulatory factors are organized in a biosynthetic gene cluster. For site-directed mutagenesis of lantibiotics, the engineered genes must be expressed in an expression system that contains all of the factors necessary for biosynthesis, export, and producer self-protection. In order to express engineered mersacidin peptides, a system in which the engineered gene replaces the wild-type gene on the chromosome was constructed. To test the expression system, three mutants were constructed. In S16I mersacidin, the didehydroalanine residue (Dha) at position 16 was replaced with the Ile residue found in the closely related lantibiotic actagardine. S16I mersacidin was produced only in small amounts. The purified peptide had markedly reduced antimicrobial activity, indicating an essential role for Dha16 in biosynthesis and biological activity of mersacidin. Similarly, Glu17, which is thought to be an essential structure in mersacidin, was exchanged for alanine. E17A mersacidin was obtained in good yields but also showed markedly reduced activity, thus confirming the importance of the carboxylic acid function at position 17 in the biological activity of mersacidin. Finally, the exchange of an aromatic for an aliphatic hydrophobic residue at position 3 resulted in the mutant peptide F3L mersacidin; this peptide showed only moderately reduced activity.
PMCID: PMC165212  PMID: 12839744
17.  Bovicin HJ50-Like Lantibiotics, a Novel Subgroup of Lantibiotics Featured by an Indispensable Disulfide Bridge 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97121.
Lantibiotics are ribosomally-synthesized and posttranslationally modified peptides with potent antimicrobial activities. Discovery of novel lantibiotics has been greatly accelerated with the soaring release of genomic information of microorganisms. As a unique class II lantibiotic, bovicin HJ50 is produced by Streptococcus bovis HJ50 and contains one rare disulfide bridge. By using its precursor BovA as a drive sequence, 16 BovA-like peptides were revealed in a wide variety of species. From them, three representative novel lan loci from Clostridium perfringens D str. JGS1721, Bacillus cereus As 1.348 and B. thuringiensis As 1.013 were identified by PCR screening. The corresponding mature lantibiotics designated perecin, cerecin and thuricin were obtained and structurally elucidated to be bovicin HJ50-like lantibiotics especially by containing a conserved disulfide bridge. The disulfide bridge was substantiated to be essential for the function of bovicin HJ50-like lantibiotics as its disruption eliminated their antimicrobial activities. Further analysis indicated that the disulfide bridge played a crucial role in maintaining the hydrophobicity of bovicin HJ50, which might facilitate it to exert antimicrobial function. This study unveiled a novel subgroup of disulfide-containing lantibiotics from bacteria of different niches and further demonstrated the indispensable role of disulfide bridge in these novel bovicin HJ50-like lantibiotics.
PMCID: PMC4018250  PMID: 24821187
18.  Role of the Single Regulator MrsR1 and the Two-Component System MrsR2/K2 in the Regulation of Mersacidin Production and Immunity 
The lantibiotic mersacidin is an antimicrobial peptide of 20 amino acids which inhibits bacterial cell wall biosynthesis by binding to the precursor molecule lipid II and which is produced by Bacillus sp. strain HIL Y-85,54728. The structural gene of mersacidin as well as accessory genes is organized in a biosynthetic gene cluster which is located on the chromosome and contains three open reading frames with similarities to regulatory proteins: mrsR2 and mrsK2 encode two proteins with homology to bacterial two-component systems, and mrsR1 shows similarity to a response regulator. Both mrsR2/K2 and mrsR1 were inactivated by insertion of an antibiotic resistance marker. Disruption of mrsR1 resulted in loss of mersacidin production; however, producer self-protection was not impaired. In contrast, inactivation of mrsR2/K2 led to an increased susceptibility to mersacidin whereas biosynthesis of the lantibiotic remained unaffected. Binding of mersacidin to intact cells was significantly enhanced in the mrsR2/K2 knockout mutant. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis from total RNA preparations showed that in contrast to the wild-type strain, the structural genes of the ABC transporter MrsFGE were not transcribed in the knockout mutant. It was therefore concluded that producer self-protection against mersacidin is conferred by the ABC transporter MrsFGE and that the transcription of mrsFGE is regulated by MrsR2/K2, whereas production of the antibacterial peptide is solely activated by MrsR1.
PMCID: PMC126572  PMID: 11772616
19.  Production of the Novel Two-Peptide Lantibiotic Lichenicidin by Bacillus licheniformis DSM 13 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6788.
Lantibiotics are small microbial peptide antibiotics that are characterized by the presence of the thioether amino acids lanthionine and methyllanthionine. Lantibiotics possess structural genes which encode inactive prepeptides. During maturation, the prepeptide undergoes posttranslational modifications including the introduction of rare amino acids as lanthionine and methyllanthione as well as the proteolytic removal of the leader. The structural gene (lanA) as well as the other genes which are involved in lantibiotic modification (lanM, lanB, lanC, lanP), regulation (lanR, lanK), export (lanT(P)) and immunity (lanEFG) are organized in biosynthetic gene clusters.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Sequence comparisons in the NCBI database showed that Bacillus licheniformis DSM 13 harbours a putative lantibiotic gene cluster which comprises two structural genes (licA1, licA2) and two modification enzymes (licM1, licM2) in addition to 10 ORFs that show sequence similarities to proteins involved in lantibiotic production. A heat labile antimicrobial activity was detected in the culture supernatant and a heat stabile activity was present in the isopropanol cell wash extract of this strain. In agar well diffusion assays both fractions exhibited slightly different activity spectra against Gram-positive bacteria. In order to demonstrate the connection between the lantibiotic gene cluster and one of the antibacterial activities, two Bacillus licheniformis DSM 13 mutant strains harbouring insertions in the structural genes of the modification enzymes licM1 and licM2 were constructed. These strains were characterized by a loss of activity in the isopropanol extract and substractive MALDI-TOF predicted masses of 3020.6 Da and 3250.6 Da for the active peptides.
In conclusion, B. licheniformis DSM 13 produces an antimicrobial substance that represents the two-peptide lantibiotic lichenicidin and that shows activity against a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains.
PMCID: PMC2727956  PMID: 19707558
20.  The Lantibiotic Mersacidin Is an Autoinducing Peptide▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2006;72(11):7270-7277.
The lantibiotic (lanthionine-containing antibiotic) mersacidin is an antimicrobial peptide consisting of 20 amino acids and is produced by Bacillus sp. strain HIL Y-85,54728. The structural gene (mrsA) and the genes for producer self-protection, modification enzymes, transport proteins, and regulator proteins are organized in a 12.3-kb biosynthetic gene cluster on the chromosome of the producer strain. Mersacidin is produced in stationary phase in a synthetic medium (K. Altena, A. Guder, C. Cramer, and G. Bierbaum, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66:2565-2571, 2000). To investigate the influence of the alternative sigma factor H on mersacidin biosynthesis, a SigH knockout was constructed. The knockout mutant was asporogenous, and a comparison to the wild-type strain indicated no significant differences concerning mersacidin production and immunity. Characterization of the mrsA promoter showed that the gene is transcribed by the housekeeping sigma factor A. The biosynthesis of some lantibiotic peptides like nisin or subtilin is regulated in a cell-density-dependent manner (M. Kleerebezem, Peptides 25:1405-1414, 2004). When mersacidin was added at a concentration of 2 mg/liter to an exponentially growing culture, an earlier production of antibacterial activity against Micrococcus luteus ATCC 4698 in comparison to that of the control culture was observed, suggesting that mersacidin itself functions as an autoinducer. In real-time PCR experiments, the expression of mrsA was remarkably increased in the induced culture compared to the control. In conclusion, mersacidin is yet another lantibiotic peptide whose biosynthesis can be regulated by an autoinducing mechanism.
PMCID: PMC1636175  PMID: 16980420
21.  Cerecidins, Novel Lantibiotics from Bacillus cereus with Potent Antimicrobial Activity 
Lantibiotics are ribosomally synthesized and posttranslationally modified antimicrobial peptides that are widely produced by Gram-positive bacteria, including many species of the Bacillus group. In the present study, one novel gene cluster coding lantibiotic cerecidins was unveiled in Bacillus cereus strain As 1.1846 through genomic mining and PCR screening. The designated cer locus is different from that of conventional class II lantibiotics in that it included seven tandem precursor cerA genes, one modification gene (cerM), two processing genes (cerT and cerP), one orphan regulator gene (cerR), and two immunity genes (cerF and cerE). In addition, one unprecedented quorum sensing component, comQXPA, was inserted between cerM and cerR. The expression of cerecidins was not detected in this strain of B. cereus, which might be due to repressed transcription of cerM. We constitutively coexpressed cerA genes and cerM in Escherichia coli, and purified precerecidins were proteolytically processed with the endoproteinase GluC and a truncated version of putative serine protease CerP. Thus, two natural variants of cerecidins A1 and A7 were obtained which contained two terminal nonoverlapping thioether rings rarely found in lantibiotics. Both cerecidins A1 and A7 were active against a broad spectrum of Gram-positive bacteria. Cerecidin A7, especially its mutant Dhb13A, showed remarkable efficacy against multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MDRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), and even Streptomyces.
PMCID: PMC3993178  PMID: 24532070
22.  In silico analysis highlights the frequency and diversity of type 1 lantibiotic gene clusters in genome sequenced bacteria 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:679.
Lantibiotics are lanthionine-containing, post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides. These peptides have significant, but largely untapped, potential as preservatives and chemotherapeutic agents. Type 1 lantibiotics are those in which lanthionine residues are introduced into the structural peptide (LanA) through the activity of separate lanthionine dehydratase (LanB) and lanthionine synthetase (LanC) enzymes. Here we take advantage of the conserved nature of LanC enzymes to devise an in silico approach to identify potential lantibiotic-encoding gene clusters in genome sequenced bacteria.
In total 49 novel type 1 lantibiotic clusters were identified which unexpectedly were associated with species, genera and even phyla of bacteria which have not previously been associated with lantibiotic production.
Multiple type 1 lantibiotic gene clusters were identified at a frequency that suggests that these antimicrobials are much more widespread than previously thought. These clusters represent a rich repository which can yield a large number of valuable novel antimicrobials and biosynthetic enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3091789  PMID: 21118552
23.  Biosynthesis of the lantibiotic nisin: genomic organization and membrane localization of the NisB protein. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1992;58(11):3730-3743.
Nisin produced by Lactococcus lactis 6F3 is used as a food preservative and is the most important member of a group of peptide-antibiotics containing lanthionine bridges (lantibiotics) (N. Schnell, K.-D. Entian, U. Schneider, F. Götz, H. Zähner, R. Kellner, and G. Jung, Nature [London] 333:276-278, 1988). Nisin is ribosomally synthesized, and its structural gene, nisA, encodes a prepeptide that is posttranslationally modified, revealing the active lantibiotic (C. Kaletta and K.-D. Entian, J. Bacteriol. 171:1597-1601, 1989). Adjacent to nisA, the additional genes nisB, nisT, and nisC were identified. Over their entire sequences, these genes were homologous to genes recently identified as important for the biosynthesis of lantibiotics, that is, subtilin from Bacillus subtilis ATCC 6633 and epidermin from Staphylococcus epidermidis Tü 3298. Genes nisB, nisT, and nisC corresponded to open reading frames of 993, 600, and 418 amino acid residues, respectively. The nisT open reading frame is homologous to proteins of the HlyB (hemolysin B protein of Escherichia coli) subfamily. Proteins of this subfamily are responsible for the secretion of a variety of compounds, including large polypeptides, polysaccharides, and anti-drug tumors, indicating that NisT may be involved in nisin transport. Northern (RNA) blot analysis revealed a 0.3-kb transcript for the nisA structural gene, and the transcriptional start point of the nisA gene was determined by primer extension. Additionally, a mRNA of at least 3 kb was identified by using a hybridization probe specific to nisB. Antibodies were raised against the NisB protein, and Western blot (immunoblot) analysis revealed a molecular weight of about 115 kDa, which is in accordance with the theoretical protein size of 117.5 kDa as calculated from the nisB open reading frame. Several amphipathic transmembrane alpha-helices indicated that NisB is associated with the membrane. This was confirmed by preparing L. lactis vesicles. The NisB protein was tightly associated with the vesicle fraction and was released by sodium dodecyl sulfate treatment only. These results suggest that NisB is membrane associated and that nisin biosynthesis occurs at the cell membrane.
PMCID: PMC183167  PMID: 1482192
24.  Identification and Characterization of Psychrotolerant Sporeformers Associated with Fluid Milk Production and Processing 
Psychrotolerant spore-forming bacteria represent a major challenge to the goal of extending the shelf life of pasteurized dairy products. The objective of this study was to identify prominent phylogenetic groups of dairy-associated aerobic sporeformers and to characterize representative isolates for phenotypes relevant to growth in milk. Analysis of sequence data for a 632-nucleotide fragment of rpoB showed that 1,288 dairy-associated isolates (obtained from raw and pasteurized milk and from dairy farm environments) clustered into two major divisions representing (i) the genus Paenibacillus (737 isolates, including the species Paenibacillus odorifer, Paenibacillus graminis, and Paenibacillus amylolyticus sensu lato) and (ii) Bacillus (n = 467) (e.g., Bacillus licheniformis sensu lato, Bacillus pumilus, Bacillus weihenstephanensis) and genera formerly classified as Bacillus (n = 84) (e.g., Viridibacillus spp.). When isolates representing the most common rpoB allelic types (ATs) were tested for growth in skim milk broth at 6°C, 6/9 Paenibacillus isolates, but only 2/8 isolates representing Bacillus subtypes, grew >5 log CFU/ml over 21 days. In addition, 38/40 Paenibacillus isolates but only 3/47 Bacillus isolates tested were positive for β-galactosidase activity (including some isolates representing Bacillus licheniformis sensu lato, a common dairy-associated clade). Our study confirms that Paenibacillus spp. are the predominant psychrotolerant sporeformers in fluid milk and provides 16S rRNA gene and rpoB subtype data and phenotypic characteristics facilitating the identification of aerobic spore-forming spoilage organisms of concern. These data will be critical for the development of detection methods and control strategies that will reduce the introduction of psychrotolerant sporeformers and extend the shelf life of dairy products.
PMCID: PMC3298126  PMID: 22247129
25.  Genetic and Biochemical Analysis of Mutacin 1140, a Lantibiotic from Streptococcus mutans 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(6):2743-2749.
Streptococcus mutans JH1000 and its derivatives were previously shown (J. D. Hillman, K. P. Johnson, and B. I. Yaphe, Infect. Immun. 44:141–144, 1984) to produce a low-molecular-weight, broad-spectrum bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS). The thermosensitive vector pTV1-OK harboring Tn917 was used to isolate a BLIS-deficient mutant, DM25, and the mutated gene was recovered by shotgun cloning in Escherichia coli. Sequence analysis of insert DNA adjacent to Tn917 led to the identification of four open reading frames including two (lanA and lanB) which have substantial homology to the Staphylococcus epidermidis structural gene (epiA) and a modifying enzyme gene (epiB) for biosynthesis of the lantibiotic epidermin, respectively. Although the BLIS activity could not be recovered from broth cultures, high yields were obtained from a solid medium consisting of Todd-Hewitt broth containing 0.5% agarose that was stab inoculated with JH1140 (a spontaneous mutant of JH1000 that produces threefold-elevated amounts of activity). Agar could not substitute for agarose. Chloroform extraction of the spent medium produced a fraction which yielded two major bands on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The faster-migrating band was absent in chloroform extracts of the mutant, DM25. The amino acid sequence of this band was determined by Edman sequencing and mass spectroscopy. The results showed that it is a lantibiotic, which we have named mutacin 1140, and that the sequence corresponded to that deduced from the lanA sequence. We observed a number of similarities of mutacin 1140 to epidermin and an S. mutans lantibiotic, B-Ny266, but it appears to have significant differences in the positions of its thioether bridges. It also has other unique features with regard to its leader sequence and posttranslational modification. A proposed structure for mutacin 1140 is presented.
PMCID: PMC108264  PMID: 9596742

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