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Biochemistry. 2008 Mar 11;47(10):3308-14. doi: 10.1021/bi701262z. Epub 2008 Feb 12.

Elucidation of the antimicrobial mechanism of mutacin 1140.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, USA.


Mutacin 1140 and nisin A are peptide antibiotics that belong to the lantibiotic family. N-Terminal rings A and B of nisin A and mutacin 1140 (lipid II-binding domain) share many structural and sequence similarities. Nisin A binds lipid II and thus disrupts cell wall synthesis and also forms transmembrane pores. Very little is known about mutacin 1140 in this regard. We performed fluorescence-based studies using a bacteria-mimetic membrane system. The results indicated that lipid II monomers are arranged differently in the mutacin 1140 complex than in the nisin A complex. These differences in complex formation may be attributed to the fact that nisin A uses lipid II to form a distinct pore complex, while mutacin 1140 does not form pores in this membrane system. Further experiments demonstrated that the mutacin 1140-lipid II and nisin A-lipid II complexes are very stable and capable of withstanding competition from each other. Transmembrane electrical potential experiments using a Streptococcus rattus strain, which is sensitive to mutacin 1140, demonstrated that mutacin 1140 does not form pores in this strain even at a concentration 8 times higher than the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). Circular complexes of mutacin 1140 and nisin A were observed by electron microscopy, providing direct evidence for a lateral assembly mechanism for these antibiotics. Mutacin 1140 did exhibit a membrane disruptive function in another commonly used artificial bacterial membrane system, and its disruptive activity was enhanced by increasing amounts of anionic phospholipids.

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