The manifold roles of microbial ribosomal peptide-based natural products in physiology and ecology [Metabolism]

November 29th, 2019 by Yanyan Li, Sylvie REBUFFAT

The ribosomally synthesized and posttranslationally modified peptides (RiPPs), also called ribosomal peptide natural products (RPNPs), form a growing superfamily of natural products that are produced by many different organisms and particularly by bacteria. They are derived from precursor polypeptides whose modification by various dedicated enzymes helps establish a vast array of chemical motifs. RiPPs have attracted much interest as a source of potential therapeutic agents, and in particular as alternatives to conventional antibiotics in order to address the bacterial resistance crisis. However, their ecological roles in Nature are poorly understood and explored. The present review describes major RiPP actors in competition within microbial communities, the main ecological and physiological functions currently evidenced for RiPPs, and the microbial ecosystems that are the sites for these functions. We envision that the study of RiPPs may lead to discoveries of new biological functions and highlight that a better knowledge of how bacterial RiPPs mediate inter-/intra-species and inter-kingdom interactions will hold promise for devising alternative strategies in antibiotic development.