Enzymatic Reconstitution and Biosynthetic Investigation of the Lasso Peptide Fusilassin

Adam J. Dicaprio, Arash Firouzbakht, Graham A. Hudson, Douglas A. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lasso peptides are a class of ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified natural product which possess a unique lariat knot conformation. The low entropy "threaded" conformation endows lasso peptides with considerable resistance to heat and proteolytic degradation, which are attractive properties for the development of peptide-based therapeutics. Despite their discovery nearly 30 years ago, the molecular mechanism underlying lasso peptide biosynthesis remains poorly characterized due to the low stability of the purified biosynthetic enzymes. Here, we report the biosynthetic reconstitution of a lasso peptide derived from Thermobifida fusca, termed fusilassin. Beyond robust catalytic activity, the fusilassin enzymes demonstrate extraordinary substrate tolerance during heterologous expression in E. coli and upon purification in cell-free biosynthetic reconstitution reactions. We provide evidence that the fusilassin biosynthetic enzymes are not capable of forming branched-cyclic products but can produce entirely unrelated lasso peptides. Finally, we leveraged our bioinformatic survey of all lasso peptides identified in GenBank to perform coevolutionary analysis of two requisite biosynthetic proteins. This effort correctly identified residues governing an important protein-protein interaction, illustrating how genomic insight can accelerate the characterization of natural product biosynthetic pathways. The fusilassin enzymes described within represent a model system for both designing future lasso peptides of biomedical importance and also for elucidating the molecular mechanisms that govern lasso peptide biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-297
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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