The rise of antimicrobial resistance necessitates the discovery and/or production of novel antibiotics. Isolated strains of Paenibacillus alvei were previously shown to exhibit antimicrobial activity against a number of pathogens, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The responsible antimicrobial compounds were isolated from these Paenibacillus strains and a combination of low and high resolution mass spectrometry with multiple-stage tandem mass spectrometry was used for identification. A group of closely related cyclic lipopeptides was identified, differing primarily by fatty acid chain length and one of two possible amino acid substitutions. Variation in the fatty acid length resulted in mass differences of 14 Da and yielded groups of related MS(n) spectra. Despite the inherent complexity of MS/MS spectra of cyclic compounds, straightforward analysis of these spectra was accomplished by determining differences in complementary product ion series between compounds that differ in molecular weight by 14 Da. The primary peptide sequence assignment was confirmed through genome mining; the combination of these analytical tools represents a workflow that can be used for the identification of complex antibiotics. The compounds also share amino acid sequence similarity to a previously identified broad-spectrum antibiotic isolated from Paenibacillus. The presence of such a wide distribution of related compounds produced by the same organism represents a novel class of broad-spectrum antibiotic compounds.
Journal: Journal of the American society for mass spectrometry