Microcin J25 (MccJ25) is a cyclic antibacterial peptide secreted by a fecal isolate of Escherichia coli. It exerts highly potent activity on Salmonella and Escherichia species. The microcin is recognized at the outer membrane of sensitive strains by the FhuA multifunctional protein, which belongs to the iron / siderophore receptor family, and inhibits bacterial transcription through binding to the RNA-polymerase β subunit. The mcjABCD genetic system carried by the wild type 50-kb pTUC100 plasmid contains four genes involved in MccJ25 production and immunity. MccJ25 results from the proteolytic cleavage of a 58-residue precursor at a specific Lys-Gly bond. The resulting mature peptide consists of 21 unmodified amino acids, mostly hydrophobic and includes a single dehydration. The initially described macrocyclic structure of MccJ25, which mostly relied on manual Edman sequencing of the thermolysin-cleaved form (t-MccJ25), involved a head-to-tail cyclisation of the 21-residue precursor. This structure did not prove to be consistent with recent ITMS CID experiments conducted either on the native microcin or on peptides resulting from acidic or enzymatic cleavages, which are in favour of an 8-residue ring followed by a 13-residue tail. Cyclisation thus occurs between the N-terminus (Gly1) and the Glu8 side chain carboxyl group. The solution three-dimensional structure shows threading of the tail into the ring, thus forming a highly stable lasso type structure. Such a structure was described previously for enzyme inhibitors from Actinobacteria and is consistent with the ability of MccJ25 to inhibit RNA polymerase. The lasso structure is discussed in terms of phylogenetical and biotechnological perspectives.
Keywords: antimicrobial peptide, bacteriocin, conformational stability, escherichia coli, lasso peptide, microcin j25, solution structure, streptomyces
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