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Roads to Rome

Reflecting recent work in the Schmidt lab

Ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides, RiPPs, are ubiquitous natural products. Bioactive RiPPs are produced from a precursor peptide, which is modified by enzymes. Usually, a single product is encoded in a precursor peptide.

However, in cyanobactins and several other RiPP pathways, a single precursor peptide encodes multiple bioactive products flanking with recognition sequences known as "cassettes." The role of multiple cassettes in one peptide is mysterious, but in general their presence is a marker of biosynthetic plasticity.

In work published in JACS, researchers in the Eric Schmidt group show that in cyanobactin biosynthesis the presence of multiple cassettes confers distributive enzyme processing to multiple steps of the pathway, a feature they propose to be a hallmark of multicassette RiPPs.

TruD heterocyclase is stochastic and distributive. Although a canonical biosynthetic route is favored with certain substrates, every conceivable biosynthetic route is accepted. Together, these factors afford greater plasticity to the biosynthetic pathway by equalizing the processing of each cassette, enabling access to chemical diversity.

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