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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Mar 21;134(11):5309-16. doi: 10.1021/ja211675n. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Selectivity, directionality, and promiscuity in peptide processing from a Bacillus sp. Al Hakam cyclodehydratase.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, United States.


The thiazole/oxazole-modified microcins (TOMMs) represent a burgeoning class of ribosomal natural products decorated with thiazoles and (methyl)oxazoles originating from cysteines, serines, and threonines. The ribosomal nature of TOMMs allows for the generation of derivative products from mutations in the amino acid sequence of the precursor peptide, which ultimately manifest in differing structures and, sometimes, biological functions. Employing a TOMM system for the purpose of creating new structures and functions via combinatorial biosynthesis requires processing machinery that can tolerate highly variable substrates. In this study, TOMM enzymatic promiscuity was assessed using a currently uncharacterized cluster in Bacillus sp. Al Hakam. As determined by Fourier transform tandem mass spectrometry (FT-MS/MS), azole rings were formed in both a regio- and chemoselective fashion. Cognate and noncognate precursor peptides were modified in an overall C- to N-terminal directionality, which to date is unique among characterized ribosomal natural products. Studies focused on the inherent promiscuity of the biosynthetic machinery elucidated a modest bias for glycine at the preceding (-1) position and a remarkable flexibility in the following (+1) position, even allowing for the incorporation of charged amino acids and bisheterocyclization. Two unnatural substrates were utilized as the conclusive test of substrate flexibility, of which both were processed in a predictable fashion. A greater understanding of substrate processing and enzymatic tolerance toward unnatural substrates will prove beneficial when designing combinatorial libraries to screen for artificial TOMMs that exhibit desired activities.

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