Biosynthesis of Cyclotides
Plants are a rich source of cyclic peptides, with the vast majority of these molecules being produced via non-ribosomal biosynthetic pathways. In contrast, the cyclotides are gene-coded products generated via processing of a larger precursor protein. The gene for the first such precursor is Oak1 (Oldenlandia affinis kalata clone number 1), which was shown to be responsible for the synthesis of kalata B1. Figure 4 illustrates the generic configuration of the precursor protein, which consist of an endoplasmic reticulum signal sequence, a non-conserved pro-region, a highly conserved region known as the N-terminal repeat (NTR), the mature cyclotide domain and finally a short hydrophobic C-terminal tail. The cyclotide domain may contain either one cyclotide sequence, as in the case of Oak1, or multiple copies separated by additional NTR sequences as seen for Oak2 and Oak4. In precursor proteins containing multiple cyclotide domains these can either be all identical sequences, as is the case for Oak4, or they can be different cyclotides as in Oak2 which contains sequences corresponding to kalata B3 and B6.
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