Reactivity-Based Screening for Citrulline-Containing Natural Products Reveals a Family of Bacterial Peptidyl Arginine Deiminases

Lonnie A. Harris, Patricia M.B. Saint-Vincent, Xiaorui Guo, Graham A. Hudson, Adam J. Dicaprio, Lingyang Zhu, Douglas A. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs) are a family of natural products defined by a genetically encoded precursor peptide that is processed by associated biosynthetic enzymes to form the mature product. Lasso peptides are a class of RiPP defined by an isopeptide linkage between the N-terminal amine and an internal Asp/Glu residue with the C-terminal sequence threaded through the macrocycle. This unique lariat topology, which typically provides considerable stability toward heat and proteases, has stimulated interest in lasso peptides as potential therapeutics. Post-translational modifications beyond the class-defining, threaded macrolactam have been reported, including one example of Arg deimination to yield citrulline (Cit). Although a Cit-containing lasso peptide (i.e., citrulassin) was serendipitously discovered during a genome-guided campaign, the gene(s) responsible for Arg deimination has remained unknown. Herein, we describe the use of reactivity-based screening to discriminate bacterial strains that produce Arg- versus Cit-bearing citrulassins, yielding 13 new lasso peptide variants. Partial phylogenetic profiling identified a distally encoded peptidyl arginine deiminase (PAD) gene ubiquitous to the Cit-containing variants. Absence of this gene correlated strongly with lasso peptide variants only containing Arg (i.e., des-citrulassin). Heterologous expression of the PAD gene in a des-citrulassin producer resulted in the production of the deiminated analog, confirming PAD involvement in Arg deimination. The PADs were then bioinformatically surveyed to provide a deeper understanding of their taxonomic distribution and genomic contexts and to facilitate future studies that will evaluate any additional biochemical roles for the superfamily.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3167-3175
Number of pages9
JournalACS chemical biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 18 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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