Precursor peptide-targeted mining of more than one hundred thousand genomes expands the lanthipeptide natural product family

Mark C. Walker, Sara M. Eslami, Kenton J. Hetrick, Sarah E. Ackenhusen, Douglas A. Mitchell, Wilfred A. Van Der Donk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Lanthipeptides belong to the ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide group of natural products and have a variety of biological activities ranging from antibiotics to antinociceptives. These peptides are cyclized through thioether crosslinks and can bear other secondary post-translational modifications. While lanthipeptide biosynthetic gene clusters can be identified by the presence of genes encoding characteristic enzymes involved in the post-translational modification process, locating the precursor peptides encoded within these clusters is challenging due to their short length and high sequence variability, which limits the high-throughput exploration of lanthipeptide biosynthesis. To address this challenge, we enhanced the predictive capabilities of Rapid ORF Description & Evaluation Online (RODEO) to identify members of all four known classes of lanthipeptides. Results: Using RODEO, we mined over 100,000 bacterial and archaeal genomes in the RefSeq database. We identified nearly 8500 lanthipeptide precursor peptides. These precursor peptides were identified in a broad range of bacterial phyla as well as the Euryarchaeota phylum of archaea. Bacteroidetes were found to encode a large number of these biosynthetic gene clusters, despite making up a relatively small portion of the genomes in this dataset. A number of these precursor peptides are similar to those of previously characterized lanthipeptides, but even more were not, including potential antibiotics. One such new antimicrobial lanthipeptide was purified and characterized. Additionally, examination of the biosynthetic gene clusters revealed that enzymes installing secondary post-translational modifications are more widespread than initially thought. Conclusion: Lanthipeptide biosynthetic gene clusters are more widely distributed and the precursor peptides encoded within these clusters are more diverse than previously appreciated, demonstrating that the lanthipeptide sequence-function space remains largely underexplored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number387
JournalBMC genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 3 2020


  • Antibiotic
  • Genome-mining
  • Lanthipeptide
  • Natural product
  • RiPP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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