Lantibiotics are ribosomally synthesised, post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides produced by
Gram positive bacteria, many which have broad-ranging antimicrobial activities. Lantibiotics have long been the subject
of investigation with a view to their application as food preservatives or chemotherapeutic agents for clinical and
veterinary medicine, while the associated biosynthetic machinery has been employed for peptide engineering purposes.
However, although many lantibiotics are produced by generally regarded as safe or food-grade bacteria, it is increasingly
apparent that a number of Gram positive pathogens, including strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus
epidermidis, Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus uberis and
Enterococcus faecalis, also produce these compounds. It is proposed that production of these antimicrobials may provide
the associated microorganisms with a competitive advantage when colonizing/infecting a host, thereby enhancing the
virulence of the producing strain. Here we review the production of lantibiotics by these pathogens and discuss how their
production may contribute to their disease-causing potential.
Keywords: Enterococcus, lantibiotic, pathogen, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, (Z)-2, 3-dehydrobutyrine, prototypical lantibiotic, Staphylococcus aureus, LanB enzymes, Unmodified Amino Acid
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