Glutathione is a nearly ubiquitous, low-molecular-mass thiol and antioxidant, but it is conspicuously absent from most Gram-positive bacteria. We identify here the structure of bacillithiol, a newly described and abundant thiol produced by Bacillus species, Staphylococcus aureus and Deinococcus radiodurans. Bacillithiol is the α-anomeric glycoside of L-cysteinyl-D-glucosamine with L-malic acid and most probably functions as an antioxidant. Bacillithiol, like the structurally similar mycothiol, may serve as a substitute for glutathione.
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We thank H. Upton for technical assistance. This work was supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation to R.C.F. (MCB0235705) and J.D.H. (MCB0640616); from the US National Institutes of Health to R.C.F. (AI49174 and AI072133), to M.R. (GM061223-05A) and to A.C. (GM35394); and from The University of East Anglia to V.K.J.
G.L.N., M.R., J.J.L. and R.C.F. will attempt to patent bacillithiol, its biosynthetic precursors, and its biosynthetic and metabolic proteins.
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Newton, G., Rawat, M., La Clair, J. et al. Bacillithiol is an antioxidant thiol produced in Bacilli. Nat Chem Biol 5, 625–627 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.189
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