Evaluation of essential and variable residues of nukacin ISK-1 by NNK scanning

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Abstract

Nukacin ISK-1, a type-A(II) lantibiotic, comprises 27 amino acids with a distinct linear N-terminal and a globular C-terminal region. To identify the positional importance or redundancy of individual residues responsible for nukacin ISK-1 antimicrobial activity, we replaced the native codons of the parent peptide with NNK triplet oligonucleotides in order to generate a bank of nukacin ISK-1 variants. The bioactivity of each peptide variant was evaluated by colony overlay assay, and hence we identified three Lys residues (Lys1, Lys2 and Lys3) that provided electrostatic interactions with the target membrane and were significantly variable. The ring structure of nukacin ISK-1 was found to be crucially important as replacing the ring-forming residues caused a complete loss of bioactivity. In addition to the ring-forming residues, Gly5, His12, Asp13, Met16, Asn17 and Gln20 residues were found to be essential for antimicrobial activity; Val6, Ile7, Val10, Phe19, Phe21, Val22, Phe23 and Thr24 were relatively variable; and Ser4, Pro8, His15 and Ser27 were extensively variable relative to their positions. We obtained two variants, Asp13Glu and Val22Ile, which exhibited a twofold higher specific activity compared with the wild-type and are the first reported type-A(II) lantibiotic mutant peptides with increased potency.

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