Expansion of RiPP biosynthetic space through integration of pan-genomics and machine learning uncovers a novel class of lantibiotics

Alexander M. Kloosterman, Peter Cimermancic, Somayah S. Elsayed, Chao Du, Michalis Hadjithomas, Mohamed S. Donia, Michael A. Fischbach, Gilles P. van Wezel, Marnix H. Medema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Microbial natural products constitute a wide variety of chemical compounds, many which can have antibiotic, antiviral, or anticancer properties that make them interesting for clinical purposes. Natural product classes include polyketides (PKs), nonribosomal peptides (NRPs), and ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs). While variants of biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) for known classes of natural products are easy to identify in genome sequences, BGCs for new compound classes escape attention. In particular, evidence is accumulating that for RiPPs, subclasses known thus far may only represent the tip of an iceberg. Here, we present decRiPPter (Data-driven Exploratory Class-independent RiPP TrackER), a RiPP genome mining algorithm aimed at the discovery of novel RiPP classes. DecRiPPter combines a Support Vector Machine (SVM) that identifies candidate RiPP precursors with pan-genomic analyses to identify which of these are encoded within operon-like structures that are part of the accessory genome of a genus. Subsequently, it prioritizes such regions based on the presence of new enzymology and based on patterns of gene cluster and precursor peptide conservation across species. We then applied decRiPPter to mine 1,295 Streptomyces genomes, which led to the identification of 42 new candidate RiPP families that could not be found by existing programs. One of these was studied further and elucidated as a representative of a novel subfamily of lanthipeptides, which we designate class V. The 2D structure of the new RiPP, which we name pristinin A3 (1), was solved using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) data, and chemical labeling. Two previously unidentified modifying enzymes are proposed to create the hallmark lanthionine bridges. Taken together, our work highlights how novel natural product families can be discovered by methods going beyond sequence similarity searches to integrate multiple pathway discovery criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3001026
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number12 December
StatePublished - Dec 22 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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