Modifying the Lantibiotic Mutacin 1140 for Increased Yield, Activity, and Stability. Academic Article uri icon


  • Mutacin 1140 belongs to the epidermin family of type AI lantibiotics. This family has a broad spectrum of activity against Gram-positive bacteria. The binding of mutacin 1140 to lipid II leads to the inhibition of cell wall synthesis. Pharmacokinetic experiments with type AI lantibiotics are generally discouraging for clinical applications due to the short half-life of these compounds. The unprotected dehydrated and protease-susceptible residues outside the lanthionine rings may play a role in the short half-life in physiological settings. Previous mutagenesis work on mutacin 1140 has been limited to the lanthionine-forming residues, the C-terminally decarboxylated residue, and single amino acid substitutions at residues Phe1, Trp4, Dha5, and Arg13. To study the importance of the dehydrated (Dha5 and Dhb14) and protease-susceptible (Lys2 and Arg13) residues within mutacin 1140 for stability and bioactivity, each of these residues was evaluated for its impact on production and inhibitory activity. More than 15 analogs were purified, enabling direct comparison of the activities against a select panel of Gram-positive bacteria. The efficiency of the posttranslational modification (PTM) machinery of mutacin 1140 is highly restricted on its substrate. Analogs in the various intermediate stages of PTMs were observed as minor products following single point mutations at the 2nd, 5th, 13th, and 14th positions. The combination of alanine substitutions at the Dha5 and Dhb14 positions abolished mutacin 1140 production, while the production was restored by substitution of a Gly residue at one of these positions. Analogs with improved activity, productivity, and proteolytic stability were identified.IMPORTANCE Our findings show that the efficiency of mutacin 1140 PTMs is highly dependent on the core peptide sequence. Analogs in various intermediate stages of PTMs can be transported by the bacterium, which indicates that PTMs and transport are finely tuned for the native mutacin 1140 core peptide. Only certain combinations of amino acid substitutions at the Dha5 and Dhb14 dehydrated residue positions were tolerated. Observation of glutamylated core peptide analogs shows that dehydrations occur in a glutamate-dependent manner. Interestingly, mutations at positions outside rings A and B, the lipid II binding domain, would interfere with lipid II binding. Purified mutacin 1140 analogs have various activities and selectivities against different genera of bacteria, supporting the effort to generate analogs with higher specificity against pathogenic bacteria. The discovery of analogs with improved inhibitory activity against pathogenic bacteria, increased stability in the presence of protease, and higher product yields may promote the clinical development of this unique antimicrobial compound.

published proceedings

  • Appl Environ Microbiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Geng, M., & Smith, L.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Geng, Mengxin||Smith, Leif

editor list (cited editors)

  • Elliot, M. A.

publication date

  • August 2018