Ribosomally synthesized post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs) are ubiquitous and represent a structurally diverse class of natural products. The ribosomally encoded precursor polypeptides are often extensively modified post-translationally by enzymes that are encoded by coclustered genes. Radical S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) enzymes catalyze numerous chemically challenging transformations. In RiPP biosynthetic pathways, these transformations include the formation of C-H, C-C, C-S, and C-O linkages. In this paper, we show that the Geobacter lovleyi sbtM gene encodes a radical SAM protein, SbtM, which catalyzes the cyclization of a Cys/SeCys residue in a minimal peptide substrate. Biochemical studies of this transformation support a mechanism involving H-atom abstraction at the C-3 of the substrate Cys to initiate the chemistry. Several possible cyclization products were considered. The collective biochemical, spectroscopic, mass spectral, and computational observations point to a thiooxazole as the product of the SbtM-catalyzed modification. To our knowledge, this is the first example of a radical SAM enzyme that catalyzes a transformation involving a SeCys-containing peptide and represents a new paradigm for formation of oxazole-containing RiPP natural products.
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