SUMMARY: The structural gene for the precursor of the peptide antibiotic nisin was isolated and characterized. As with other lanthionine-containing antibiotics, nisin is synthesized as a pre-propeptide which undergoes post-translational modification to generate the mature antibiotic. The sequence data obtained agreed with those of precursor nisin genes isolated by other workers from different strains. Analysis of regions flanking the precursor nisin gene revealed the presence of a downstream open reading frame that may be involved in maturation of the precursor molecule. Nucleotide sequences characteristic of an IS element were located upstream of the nisin determinant. This element, termed IS, is present in multiple copies in the genome of . The nisin determinant of is a component of a large transmissible gene block that also encodes nisin resistance and sucrose-metabolizing genes. Gene probe experiments indicated that the nisin/sucrose gene block was located in the chromosome. Furthermore, the copy of IS identified adjacent to the precursor nisin gene lies at, or very close to, one end of this transmissible DNA segment and may play a role in mediating its transfer between strains.


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