Epicidin 280 is a novel type A lantibiotic produced by Staphylococcus epidermidis BN 280. During C18 reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography two epicidin 280 peaks were obtained; the two compounds had molecular masses of 3,133 +/- 1.5 and 3,136 +/- 1.5 Da, comparable antibiotic activities, and identical amino acid compositions. Amino acid sequence analysis revealed that epicidin 280 exhibits 75% similarity to Pep5. The strains that produce epicidin 280 and Pep5 exhibit cross-immunity, indicating that the immunity peptides cross-function in antagonization of both lantibiotics. The complete epicidin 280 gene cluster was cloned and was found to comprise at least five open reading frames (eciI, eciA, eciP, eciB, and eciC, in that order). The proteins encoded by these open reading frames exhibit significant sequence similarity to the biosynthetic proteins of the Pep5 operon of Staphylococcus epidermidis 5. A gene for an ABC transporter, which is present in the Pep5 gene cluster but is necessary only for high yields (G. Bierbaum, M. Reis, C. Szekat, and H.-G. Sahl, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60:4332-4338, 1994), was not detected. Instead, upstream of the immunity gene eciI we found an open reading frame, eciO, which could code for a novel lantibiotic modification enzyme involved in reduction of an N-terminally located oxopropionyl residue. Epicidin 280 produced by the heterologous host Staphylococcus carnosus TM 300 after introduction of eciIAPBC (i.e., no eciO was present) behaved homogeneously during reverse-phase chromatography.