Circular bacteriocins are antimicrobial peptides produced by a variety of Gram-positive bacteria. They are part of a growing family of ribosomally synthesized peptides with a head-to-tail cyclization of their backbone that are found in mammals, plants, fungi and bacteria and are exceptionally stable. These bacteriocins permeabilize the membrane of sensitive bacteria, causing loss of ions and dissipation of the membrane potential. Most circular bacteriocins probably adopt a common 3D structure consisting of four or five α-helices encompassing a hydrophobic core. This review compares the various structures, as well as the gene clusters that encode circular bacteriocins, and discusses the biogenesis of this unique class of bacteriocins.
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