Cyclotides are bioactive macrocyclic peptides from plants that are characterized by their exceptional stability and potential applications as protein engineering or drug design frameworks. Their stability arises from their unique cyclic cystine knot structure, which combines a head-to-tail cyclic peptide backbone with three conserved disulfide bonds having a knotted topology. Cyclotides are ribosomally synthesized by plants and expressed in a wide range of tissues, including leaves, flowers, stems and roots. Here we describe recent studies that have examined the biosynthesis of cyclotides and in particular the mechanism associated with post-translational backbone cyclization.
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