Lantibiotics are ribosomally synthesised, post-translationally modified antimicrobial peptides produced by Gram positive bacteria, many which have broad-ranging antimicrobial activities. Lantibiotics have long been the subject of investigation with a view to their application as food preservatives or chemotherapeutic agents for clinical and veterinary medicine, while the associated biosynthetic machinery has been employed for peptide engineering purposes. However, although many lantibiotics are produced by generally regarded as safe or food-grade bacteria, it is increasingly apparent that a number of Gram positive pathogens, including strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus uberis and Enterococcus faecalis, also produce these compounds. It is proposed that production of these antimicrobials may provide the associated microorganisms with a competitive advantage when colonizing/infecting a host, thereby enhancing the virulence of the producing strain. Here we review the production of lantibiotics by these pathogens and discuss how their production may contribute to their disease-causing potential.
University College Cork ->