Research ArticleMICROBIOLOGY

Ruminococcin C, a promising antibiotic produced by a human gut symbiont

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Science Advances  25 Sep 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 9, eaaw9969
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw9969


A major public health challenge today is the resurgence of microbial infections caused by multidrug-resistant strains. Consequently, novel antimicrobial molecules are actively sought for development. In this context, the human gut microbiome is an under-explored potential trove of valuable natural molecules, such as the ribosomally-synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs). The biological activity of the sactipeptide subclass of RiPPs remains under-characterized. Here, we characterize an antimicrobial sactipeptide, Ruminococcin C1, purified from the caecal contents of rats mono-associated with Ruminococcus gnavus E1, a human symbiont. Its heterologous expression and post-translational maturation involving a specific sactisynthase establish a thioether network, which creates a double-hairpin folding. This original structure confers activity against pathogenic Clostridia and multidrug-resistant strains but no toxicity towards eukaryotic cells. Therefore, the Ruminococcin C1 should be considered as a valuable candidate for drug development and its producer strain R. gnavus E1 as a relevant probiotic for gut health enhancement.

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