Biosynthesis of Lantibiotics: In vitro semi-synthetic production methods for generation of industrial antibiotic, Lacticin 481


This invention allows the engineering of semi-synthetic lantibiotics to a much larger extent than using typically practiced in vivo methods. The method is the first in vitro reconstruction lantibiotic photosynthesis and introduces non-proteinogenic amino acids.

Lantibiotics are peptide-based compounds produced by bacteria that live on lactic acid. They are used as natural antibiotic food preservatives as an alternative to chemical reagents and have been used for half a century without any significant signs of lantibiotic-resistant bacteria popping up.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have isolated and purified the LctM enzyme, responsible for synthesis of lacticin 481. This approach, the first in vitro reconstruction of lantibiotic biosynthesis, allows for lantibiotic engineering and opens the door to possible generations of new lantibiotics with greatly increased yields and improved activities.


  • Food preservation
  • Industrial enzyme production
  • Bioengineering of novel lantibiotics


  • Greater Production Flexibility: In vitro methodology allows for lacticin 481 production using semi-synthetic substrates.
  • Avoids Complications of In Vivo Production: In vitro methods avoid product cytotoxicity, degradation and bypasses many of the In vivo regualtory complications.
  • Better Resistance Profile: Lantibiotics have been used for half a century in more than 40 countries without any significant signs of lantibiotic-resistant bacteria appearing.
  • More Possibilities: The method works well with combinatorial techniques, increasing the number of substrates that can be used in production of lacticin 481. In addition, isolation of the LctM enzyme allows for more efficient synthesis with greater structural and functional tolerance of the biosynthetic pathway.