Assembly and clustering of natural antibiotics guides target identification

Nat Chem Biol. 2016 Apr;12(4):233-9. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.2018. Epub 2016 Feb 1.


Antibiotics are essential for numerous medical procedures, including the treatment of bacterial infections, but their widespread use has led to the accumulation of resistance, prompting calls for the discovery of antibacterial agents with new targets. A majority of clinically approved antibacterial scaffolds are derived from microbial natural products, but these valuable molecules are not well annotated or organized, limiting the efficacy of modern informatic analyses. Here, we provide a comprehensive resource defining the targets, chemical origins and families of the natural antibacterial collective through a retrobiosynthetic algorithm. From this we also detail the directed mining of biosynthetic scaffolds and resistance determinants to reveal structures with a high likelihood of having previously unknown modes of action. Implementing this pipeline led to investigations of the telomycin family of natural products from Streptomyces canus, revealing that these bactericidal molecules possess a new antibacterial mode of action dependent on the bacterial phospholipid cardiolipin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / biosynthesis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / isolation & purification
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Cardiolipins / biosynthesis*
  • Cardiolipins / genetics
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / growth & development
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / metabolism
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Multigene Family
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / isolation & purification
  • Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Streptomyces / metabolism*
  • Web Browser


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Cardiolipins
  • Peptides
  • telomycin

Associated data

  • PubChem-Substance/283538288
  • PubChem-Substance/283538289
  • PubChem-Substance/283538290
  • PubChem-Substance/283538291
  • PubChem-Substance/283538292
  • PubChem-Substance/283538293
  • PubChem-Substance/283538294
  • PubChem-Substance/283538295
  • PubChem-Substance/283538296
  • PubChem-Substance/283538297