The lantibiotic lacticin 481 is synthesized on ribosomes as a prepeptide (LctA) and posttranslationally modified to its mature form. These modifications include dehydration of serines and threonines, followed by intramolecular addition of cysteines to the unsaturated amino acids, which generates cyclic thioethers. This process breaks eight chemical bonds and forms six new bonds and is catalyzed by one enzyme, LctM. We have characterized the in vitro activity of LctM, which completely processed a series of LctA mutants, displaying a permissive substrate specificity that holds promise for antibiotic engineering.
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