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Steve Chiumento

RumC peptides, a new family of bacteriocins as viable alternative to conventional antibiotics

Published on 11 October 2019
Thesis presented October 11, 2019

Antibiotics are drugs that have changed the way we approach bacterial infections and have become one of the symbols of modern medicine. However, their widespread use has led to the emergence of multiresistant bacterial strains. This problem is undoubtedly one of the major challenges facing today's medicine. Knowing that bacteria evolve at a faster rate than the discovery of new antibiotics, it is urgent to find alternative approaches. It has been shown that these same bacteria are capable of secreting antimicrobial peptides, the bacteriocins. These macromolecules have a high structural diversity and are very effective in combating a large number of pathogenic strains in a specific way. Bacteriocins have immense potential in the agro-food and pharmaceutical sectors.
Our project focuses on the bacteriocins RumCs produced by a strain derived from Ruminococcus gnavus, a strict anaerobic bacterium of the human intestinal microbiota. The work presented in this manuscript concerns the development of a heterologous expression and maturation system in E. coli of the bacteriocin RumC1. The biochemical characterization of the RumC1 peptide shows that the RumCs bacteriocins belong to the family of sactipeptides for which the biosynthesis step involves a radical-SAM enzyme. The sactipeptides have in their peptide sequences one or more thioether bridges between a cysteine and the alpha carbon of a partner amino acid. RumC1 contains 4 thioether bridges which gives it an original structure in double hairpin. The biological activity of RumC1 shows that this peptide is effective against a broad spectrum of Gram-positive bacteria including resistant pathogens such as S. aureus and E. faecalis. In these studies, we did not note any significant toxicity of RumC1 on different human cell lines nor observed resistance phenomena. Current work aims to define the mode of action of RumC1 and to evaluate the biological activity of RumC1 in an in vivo context of infection in mice.

antimicrobial peptide, Ruminococcus gnavus E1, RiPPs, radical SAM enzyme, sactipeptide, RumC bacteriocin

On-line thesis.