Sequence diversity in the lasso peptide framework: Discovery of functional microcin J25 variants with multiple amino acid substitutions

Si Jia Pan, A. James Link

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Microcin J25 (MccJ25) is a ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptide that has an unusual threaded lasso structure in which the C-terminal "tail" of the peptide is fed through a macrocyclic "ring" formed by the N-terminal residues. Production of MccJ25 in Escherichia coli is dependent upon a four-gene cluster encoding the structural gene mcjA, two maturation enzymes mcjB and mcjC, and an immunity factor, mcjD, in the form of an MccJ25 export pump. Here we have developed a system for orthogonal control of the expression of mcjA and mcjD, thus permitting independent control of MccJ25 production and export/immunity in E. coli. We used this system to screen saturation mutagenesis libraries targeted to either the ring or tail portions of MccJ25 and discovered nearly 100 new MccJ25 variants that retain antimicrobial function. While multiple amino acid substitutions in the tail portion of the peptide are well-tolerated, mutagenesis of the ring portion of the peptide is detrimental to the antimicrobial function of MccJ25. We demonstrated that the decreased function of the ring variants is due to the inability of these variants to be transported to the cytoplasm of susceptible strains. Additionally, we found several MccJ25 variants from the tail library with improved efficacy toward the MccJ25-sensitive strains E. coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Newport with the best variants exhibiting a nearly 5-fold increase in potency. The results described here provide further evidence that diverse amino acid sequences can be tolerated by the rigid lasso peptide fold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5016-5023
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 6 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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