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J Antibiot (Tokyo). 2014 Jan;67(1):23-30. doi: 10.1038/ja.2013.81. Epub 2013 Sep 11.

Structural characterization of thioether-bridged bacteriocins.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.


Bacteriocins are a group of ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria, some of which are extensively post-translationally modified. Some bacteriocins, namely the lantibiotics and sactibiotics, contain one or more thioether bridges. However, these modifications complicate the structural elucidation of these bacteriocins using conventional techniques. This review will discuss the techniques and strategies that have been applied to determine the primary structures of lantibiotics and sactibiotics. A major challenge is to identify the topology of thioether bridges in these peptides (i.e., which amino-acid residues are involved in which bridges). Edman degradation, NMR spectroscopy and tandem MS have all been commonly applied to characterize these bacteriocins, but can be incompatible with the post-translational modifications present. Chemical modifications to the modified residues, such as desulfurization and reduction, make the treated bacteriocins more compatible to analysis by these standard peptide analytical techniques. Despite their differences in structure, similar strategies have proved useful to study the structures of both lantibiotics and sactibiotics.

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