Post-translationally introduced dehydroamino acids often play an important role in the activity and receptor specificity of biologically active peptides. In addition, a dehydroamino acid can be coupled to a cysteine to yield a cyclized peptide with increased biostability and resistance against proteolytic degradation and/or modified specificity. The lantibiotic nisin is an antimicrobial peptide produced by Lactococcus lactis. Its post-translational enzymatic modification involves NisB-mediated dehydration of serines and threonines and NisC-catalyzed coupling of cysteines to dehydroresidues, followed by NisT-mediated secretion. Here, we demonstrate that a L. lactis strain containing the nisBTC genes effectively dehydrates and secretes a wide range of medically relevant nonlantibiotic peptides among which variants of adrenocorticotropic hormone, vasopressin, an inhibitor of tripeptidyl peptidase II, enkephalin, luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, angiotensin, and erythropoietin. For most of these peptides, ring formation was demonstrated. These data show that lantibiotic enzymes can be applied for the modification of peptides, thereby enabling the biotechnological production of dehydroresidue-containing and/or thioether-bridged therapeutic peptides with enhanced stability and/or modulated activities.
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