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J Biol Chem. 1998 Sep 4;273(36):23134-42.

Identification and characterization of the structural and transporter genes for, and the chemical and biological properties of, sublancin 168, a novel lantibiotic produced by Bacillus subtilis 168.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.


An antimicrobial peptide produced by Bacillus subtilis 168 was isolated and characterized. It was named sublancin 168, and its behavior during Edman sequence analysis and its NMR spectrum suggested that sublancin is a dehydroalanine-containing lantibiotic. A hybridization probe based on the peptide sequence was used to clone the presublancin gene, which encoded a 56-residue polypeptide consisting of a 19-residue leader segment and a 37-residue mature segment. The mature segment contained one serine, one threonine, and five cysteine residues. Alkylation of mature sublancin showed no free sulfhydryl groups, suggesting that one sulfydryl had formed a beta-methyllanthionine bridge with a dehydrobutyrine derived by posttranslational modification of threonine; with the other four cysteines forming two disulfide bridges. It is unprecedented for a lantibiotic to contain a disulfide bridge. The sublancin leader was similar to known type AII lantibiotics, containing a double-glycine motif that is typically recognized by dual-function transporters. A protein encoded immediately downstream from the sublancin gene possessed features of a dual-function ABC transporter with a proteolytic domain and an ATP-binding domain. The antimicrobial activity spectrum of sublancin was like other lantibiotics, inhibiting Gram-positive bacteria but not Gram-negative bacteria; and like the lantibiotics nisin and subtilin in its ability to inhibit both bacterial spore outgrowth and vegetative growth. Sublancin is an extraordinarily stable lantibiotic, showing no degradation or inactivation after being stored in aqueous solution at room temperature for 2 years. The fact that sublancin is a natural product of B. subtilis 168, for which a great deal of genetic information is available, including the entire sequence of its genome, suggests that sublancin will be an especially good model for studying the potential of lantibiotics as sources of novel biomaterials.

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