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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

In silico analysis highlights the frequency and diversity of type 1 lantibiotic gene clusters in genome sequenced bacteria

Alan J Marsh12, Orla O'Sullivan1, R Paul Ross13*, Paul D Cotter13* and Colin Hill23

Author Affiliations

1 Teagasc, Moorepark Food Research Centre, Fermoy, Cork, Ireland

2 Microbiology Department, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

3 Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Cork, Ireland

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:679  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-679

Published: 30 November 2010

Abstract

Background

Lantibiotics are lanthionine-containing, post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides. These peptides have significant, but largely untapped, potential as preservatives and chemotherapeutic agents. Type 1 lantibiotics are those in which lanthionine residues are introduced into the structural peptide (LanA) through the activity of separate lanthionine dehydratase (LanB) and lanthionine synthetase (LanC) enzymes. Here we take advantage of the conserved nature of LanC enzymes to devise an in silico approach to identify potential lantibiotic-encoding gene clusters in genome sequenced bacteria.

Results

In total 49 novel type 1 lantibiotic clusters were identified which unexpectedly were associated with species, genera and even phyla of bacteria which have not previously been associated with lantibiotic production.

Conclusions

Multiple type 1 lantibiotic gene clusters were identified at a frequency that suggests that these antimicrobials are much more widespread than previously thought. These clusters represent a rich repository which can yield a large number of valuable novel antimicrobials and biosynthetic enzymes.