An Alternative Bactericidal Mechanism of Action for Lantibiotic Peptides That Target Lipid II

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Science  15 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5793, pp. 1636-1637
DOI: 10.1126/science.1129818

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Lantibiotics are polycyclic peptides containing unusual amino acids, which have binding specificity for bacterial cells, targeting the bacterial cell wall component lipid II to form pores and thereby lyse the cells. Yet several members of these lipid II–targeted lantibiotics are too short to be able to span the lipid bilayer and cannot form pores, but somehow they maintain their antibacterial efficacy. We describe an alternative mechanism by which members of the lantibiotic family kill Gram-positive bacteria by removing lipid II from the cell division site (or septum) and thus block cell wall synthesis.

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