The lantibiotics are a group of ribosomally synthesised, post-translationally modified peptides containing unusual amino acids, such as dehydrated and lanthionine residues. This group of bacteriocins has attracted much attention in recent years due to the success of the well characterised lantibiotic, nisin, as a food preservative. Numerous other lantibiotics have since been identified and can be divided into two groups on the basis of their structures, designated type-A and type-B. To date, many of these lantibiotics have undergone extensive characterisation resulting in an advanced understanding of them at both the structural and mechanistic level. This review outlines some of the more recent developments in the biochemistry, genetics and mechanism of action of these peptides.
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