Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed haloduracin, a new two-component lantibiotic, which consist of two peptides that are each post-translationally modified to an active form, and act in synergy to provide antibacterial activity. Using bioinformatics, the researchers used genes from the gramlinks-positive bacterium Bacillus halodurans C-125 which were precursors of the lantibiotics mersacidin and cytolysin, to produce haloduracin. According to the scientists, since Bacillus halodurans is able to grow in higher pH, this may suggest that haloduracin may also be stable in the human body, unlike nisin, which is unstable at pH 7 and above.
The researchers were also successful in expressing haloduracin in Escherichia coli, thereby creating the first in vitro biosynthesis of a two-component lantibiotic.This study is published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For an overview, see the University of Illinois’ feature report.