1.C.22 The Lactococcin A (Lactococcin A) Family

Many organisms synthesize proteins (or peptides) which are degraded to relatively small hydrophobic or amphipathic, bioactive peptides. These peptides exhibit antibiotic, fungicidal, virucidal, hemolytic and/or tumoricidal activities by interacting with membranes and forming transmembrane channels that allow the free flow of electrolytes, metabolites and water across the phospholipid bilayers. Most of these peptides appear to function in biological warfare. There are many designations given to these bioactive peptides. They include the magainins, cecropins, melittins, defensins, bacteriocidins, etc. The proteins in each family within this functional superfamily are homologous, but they exhibit little or no significant sequence similarity with members of the other families. Thus, each family may have evolved independently. However, certain common structural features observed between members of distinct families suggest that at least some of these families share a common ancestry.

The generalized transport reaction catalyzed by channel-forming amphipathic peptides is:

small solutes, electrolytes and water (in) small solutes, electrolytes and water (out).

Bacteriocins are bacterially produced peptide antibiotics with the ability to kill a limited range of bacteria, usually but not always those that are closely related to the producer bacterium. Many of them exhibit structural features typical of members of the eukaryotic channel-forming amphipathic peptides. That is, they are usually synthesized as small precursor proteins or peptides which are processed with proteolytic elimination of their N-terminal leader sequences, and the resultant mature peptides form one, two or more putative amphipathic transmembrane α-helical spanners (TMSs). For those with two TMSs, a characteristic hinge region that separates the two putative transmembrane segments is usually observed. A similar structural arrangement occurs in the two-TMS Cecropin A proteins (TC #1.C.17).

Many bacteriocins are encoded in operons that also encode an immunity protein and an ABC transport system (TC #3.A.1) with a protease domain at the N-terminus. The ABC systems export the bacteriocins while the protease domains cleave the N-terminal leader sequence. A few bacteriocins are exported by the type II general secretory pathway rather than by ABC-type export systems. In some cases, expression of the bacteriocin-encoding operon is induced by a bacteriocin-like peptide which acts in conjunction with a two component sensor kinase-response regulator to effect induction.

Class I lantibiotic bacteriocins are small membrane-active channel-forming peptides of less than 5 kDa. They contain the unusual amino acids lanthionine and β-methyl lanthionine, as well as dehydrated residues. One member of family 1.C.22 (TC #1.C.22.1.2) is the thiol-activated peptide, Lactococcin B, included in Class IIc by Klaenhammer (1993).

Many bacteriocins have been identified in addition to those tabulated in the TC system, but those listed are among the best characterized, with respect to evidence for channel formation in target bacterial membranes. Class III and IV bacteriocins (Klaenhammer, 1993) are large heat-labile proteins that function by mechanisms unrelated to those of the bacteriocins listed here.

This family belongs to the Bacterial Bacteriocin (BB) Superfamily.



Allison, G.E., C. Fremaux and T.R. Klaenhammer (1994). Expansion of bacteriocin activity and host range upon complementation of two peptides encoded within the lactacin F operon. J. Bacteriol. 176: 2235-2241.

Callewaert, R., H. Holo, B. Devreese, J. Van Beeumen, I. Nes, and L. De Vuyst. (1999). Characterization and production of amylovorin L471, a bacteriocin purified from Lactobacillus amylovorus DCE 471 by a novel three-step method. Microbiology 145(Pt9): 2559-2568.

Daba, G.M., N. Ishibashi, X. Gong, H. Taki, K. Yamashiro, Y.Y. Lim, T. Zendo, and K. Sonomoto. (2018). Characterisation of the action mechanism of a Lactococcus-specific bacteriocin, lactococcin Z. J Biosci Bioeng 126: 603-610.

Diep, D.B., L.S. Håvarstein and I.F. Nes (1995). A bacteriocin-like peptide induces bacteriocin synthesis in Lactobacillus plantarum C11. Mol. Microbiol. 18: 631-639.

Klaenhammer, T.R. (1993). Genetics of bacteriocins produced by lactic acid bacteria. FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 12: 39-85.

Moll, G.N., W.N. Konings and A.J.M. Driessen (1999). Bacteriocins: mechanism of membrane insertion and pore formation. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 76: 185-198.

Nes, I.F., D.B. Diep, L.S. Håvarstein, M.B. Brurberg, V. Eijsink and H. Holo (1996). Biosynthesis of bacteriocins in lactic acid bacteria. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 70: 113-128.

Paiva, A.D., E. Breukink, and H.C. Mantovani. (2011). Role of lipid II and membrane thickness in the mechanism of action of the lantibiotic bovicin HC5. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 55: 5284-5293.

Sahl, H.-G. and G. Bierbaum (1998). Lantibiotics: biosynthesis and biological activities of uniquely modified peptides from Gram-positive bacteria. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 52: 41-79.

Venema, K., G. Venema and J. Kok (1995). Lactococcal bacteriocins: mode of action and immunity. Trends Microbiol. 3: 299-304.


TC#NameOrganismal TypeExample
1.C.22.1.1Class I lantibiotic bacteriocin Lactococcin A Gram-positive bacteria Lactococcin A precursor of Lactococcus lactis

Lactococcin Z precursor of 70 aas and 1 TMS.  It is a Lactococcus-specific bacteriocin produced by Lactococcus lactis QU 7 that shares 55.6% identity with lactococcin A. Its receptor is the mannose IIC/IID proteins (Daba et al. 2018).

Lactococcin Z of Lactococcus lactis

1.C.22.1.2Thiol-activated peptide Lactococcin B Gram-positive bacteria Lactococcin B of Lactococcus lactis
1.C.22.1.3Carnobactericin A (Piscicolin 61) precursor Gram-positive bacteria Carnobactericin A of Carnobacterium piscicola
1.C.22.1.4Enterocin B precursor Gram-positive bacteria Enterocin B of Enterococcus faecalis

Curvaticin FS47

Gram-positive bacteria

Curvaticin FS47 of Lactobacillus curvatus


Plantaricin A precursor

Gram-positive bacteria

Plantaricin A of Lactobacillus plantarum


Bouicin 255 (Paiva et al., 2011)


Bouicin 255 of Streptococcus equinus (bovis) (Q6VMM8)


Amylovorin L471 (Lactobin A) (Callewaert et al. 1999).


Amylovorin L471 of Lactobacillus amylvorus


Bacteriocin protein of 51 aas and 1 TMS

Bacteriocin of Carnobacterium maltaromaticum (Carnobacterium piscicola)