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Microbiology. 2013 Oct;159(Pt 10):2200-11. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.068734-0. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

Manipulation of the tyrothricin production profile of Bacillus aneurinolyticus.

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BIOPEP Peptide Group, Department of Biochemistry, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa.


A group of non-ribosomally produced antimicrobial peptides, the tyrocidines from the tyrothricin complex, have potential as antimicrobial agents in both medicine and industry. Previous work by our group illustrated that the more polar tyrocidines rich in Trp residues in their structure were more active toward Gram-positive bacteria, while the more non-polar tyrocidines rich in Phe residues had greater activity toward Plasmodium falciparum, one of the major causative pathogens of malaria in humans. Our group also found that the tyrocidines have pronounced antifungal activity, dictated by the primary sequence of the tyrocidine. By simply manipulating the Phe or Trp concentration in the culture medium of the tyrothricin producer, Bacillus aneurinolyticus ATCC 10068, we were able to modulate the production of subsets of tyrocidines, thereby tailoring the tyrothricin complex to target specific pathogens. We optimized the tailored tyrothricin production using a novel, small-scale, high-throughput deep 96-well plate culturing method followed by analyses of the peptide mixtures using ultra-performance liquid chromatography linked to mass spectrometry. We were able to gradually shift the production profile of the tyrocidines and analogues, as well as the gramicidins between two extremes in terms of peptide subsets and peptide hydrophobicity. This study demonstrated that tyrothricin peptide subsets with targeted activity can be efficiently produced by simple manipulation of the aromatic amino acid profile of the culture medium.

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