Core-dependent post-translational modifications guide the biosynthesis of a new class of hypermodified peptides

Zeng Fei Pei, Lingyang Zhu, Satish K. Nair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide (RiPPs) class of natural products has undergone significant expansion due to the rapid growth in genome sequencing data. Using a bioinformatics approach, we identify the dehydrazoles, a novel class of hypermodified RiPPs that contain both side chain dehydration of Ser residues, and backbone heterocyclization at Ser, Thr, and Cys residues to the corresponding azol(in)es. Structure elucidation of the hypermodified peptide carnazolamide, a representative class member, shows that 18 post-translational modifications are installed by just five enzymes. Complete biosynthetic reconstitution demonstrates that dehydration is carried out by an unusual DUF4135 dehydration domain fused to a zinc-independent cyclase domain (CcaM). We demonstrate that CcaM only modifies Ser residues that precede an azole in the core peptide. As heterocyclization removes the carbonyl following the Ser residue, CcaM likely catalyzes dehydration without generating an enolate intermediate. Additionally, CcaM does not require the leader peptide, and this core-dependence effectively sets the order for the biosynthetic reactions. Biophysical studies demonstrate direct binding of azoles to CcaM consistent with this azole moiety-dependent dehydration. Bioinformatic analysis reveals more than 50 related biosynthetic gene clusters that contain additional catalysts that may produce structurally diverse scaffolds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7734
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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