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Chem Biol. 2008 Jan;15(1):22-31. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2007.11.009.

Determining the structure and mode of action of microbisporicin, a potent lantibiotic active against multiresistant pathogens.

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Vicuron Pharmaceuticals, Via R. Lepetit 34, 21040 Gerenzano, Varese, Italy.


Antibiotics blocking bacterial cell wall assembly (beta-lactams and glycopeptides) are facing a challenge from the progressive spread of resistant pathogens. Lantibiotics are promising candidates to alleviate this problem. Microbisporicin, the most potent antibacterial among known comparable lantibiotics, was discovered during a screening applied to uncommon actinomycetes. It is produced by Microbispora sp. as two similarly active and structurally related polypeptides (A1, 2246-Da and A2, 2230-Da) of 24 amino acids linked by 5 intramolecular thioether bridges. Microbisporicin contains two posttranslational modifications that have never been reported previously in lantibiotics: 5-chloro-trypthopan and mono- (in A2) or bis-hydroxylated (in A1) proline. Consistent with screening criteria, microbisporicin selectively blocks peptidoglycan biosynthesis, causing cytoplasmic UDP-linked precursor accumulation. Considering its spectrum of activity and its efficacy in vivo, microbisporicin represents a promising antibiotic to treat emerging infections.

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