Molecular recognition of lipopolysaccharide by the lantibiotic nisin
Nisin is a lanthionine antimicrobial effective against diverse Gram-positive bacteria and is used as a food preservative worldwide. Its action is mediated by pyrophosphate recognition of the bacterial cell wall receptors lipid II and undecaprenyl pyrophosphate. Nisin/receptor complexes disrupt cytoplasmic membranes, inhibit cell wall synthesis and dysregulate bacterial cell division. Gram-negative bacteria are much more tolerant to anti-microbials including nisin. In contrast to Gram-positives, Gram-negative bacteria possess an outer membrane, the major constituent of which is lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This contains surface exposed phosphate and pyrophosphate groups and hence can be targeted by nisin. Here we describe the impact of LPS on membrane stability in response to nisin and the molecular interactions occurring between nisin and membrane-embedded LPS from different Gram-negative bacteria. Dye release from liposomes shows enhanced susceptibility to nisin in the presence of LPS, particularly rough LPS chemotypes that lack an O-antigen whereas LPS from microorganisms sharing similar ecological niches with antimicrobial producers provides only modest enhancement. Increased susceptibility was observed with LPS from pathogenic Klebsiella pneumoniae compared to LPS from enteropathogenic Salmonella enterica and gut commensal Escherichia coli. LPS from Brucella melitensis, an intracellular pathogen which is adapted to invade professional and non-professional phagocytes, appears to be refractory to nisin. Molecular complex formation between nisin and LPS was studied by solid state MAS NMR and revealed complex formation between nisin and LPS from most organisms investigated except B. melitensis. LPS/nisin complex formation was confirmed in outer membrane extracts from E. coli.