Applied and environmental microbiology

The Bacillus cereus group is an excellent reservoir of novel lanthipeptides.

PMID 25548056


Lantibiotics are ribosomally synthesized peptides that contain multiple posttranslational modifications. Research on lantibiotics has increased recently, mainly due to their broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, especially against some clinical Gram-positive pathogens. Many reports about various bacteriocins in the Bacillus cereus group have been published, but few were about lantibiotics. In this study, we identified 101 putative lanthipeptide gene clusters from 77 out of 223 strains of this group, and these gene clusters were further classified into 20 types according to their gene organization and the homologies of their functional genes. Among them, 18 types were novel and have not yet been experimentally verified. Two novel lantibiotics (thuricin 4A-4 and its derivative, thuricin 4A-4D) were identified in the type I-1 lanthipeptide gene cluster and showed activity against all tested Gram-positive bacteria. The mode of action of thuricin 4A-4 was studied, and we found that it acted as a bactericidal compound. The transcriptional analysis of four structural genes (thiA1, thiA2, thiA3, and thiA4) in the thuricin 4A gene cluster showed that only one structural gene, thiA4, showed efficient transcription in the exponential growth phase; the other three structural genes did not. In addition, the putative transmembrane protein ThiI was responsible for thuricin 4A-4 immunity. Genome analysis and functional verification illustrated that B. cereus group strains were a prolific source of novel lantibiotics.

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