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Identification of autoinducing thiodepsipeptides from staphylococci enabled by native chemical ligation


Staphylococci secrete autoinducing peptides (AIPs) as signalling molecules to regulate population-wide behaviour. AIPs from non-Staphylococcus aureus staphylococci have received attention as potential antivirulence agents to inhibit quorum sensing and virulence gene expression in the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. However, only a limited number of AIP structures from non-S. aureus staphylococci have been identified to date, as the minute amounts secreted in complex media render it difficult. Here, we report a method for the identification of AIPs by exploiting their thiolactone functionality for chemoselective trapping and enrichment of the compounds from the bacterial supernatant. Standard liquid chromatography mass spectrometry analysis, guided by genome sequencing data, then readily provides the AIP identities. Using this approach, we confirm the identity of five known AIPs and identify the AIPs of eleven non-S. aureus species, and we expect that the method should be extendable to AIP-expressing Gram-positive bacteria beyond the Staphylococcus genus.

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Fig. 1: Overview of the reported workflow.
Fig. 2: NCL trapping and sequence-guided identification of AIP-II (2).
Fig. 3: Synthesis of AIPs.
Fig. 4: Detection limit of NCL trapping for synthetic L. monocytogenes AIP (20).

Data availability

Primary sequencing data are deposited at the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI GenBank). All other data generated and analysed during this study are available in the article and its Supplementary Information. Further details are available from the corresponding author on request.


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We thank P. Martín-Gago for fruitful input and T.W. Muir for encouraging comments. P. S. Andersen is acknowledged for providing bacterial strains. This work was supported by the Carlsberg Foundation (2013-01-0333 to C.A.O.) and University of Copenhagen (PhD fellowship to B.H.G.).

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Authors and Affiliations



B.H.G. and C.A.O. conceptualized the study. B.H.G., M.S.B., P.P. and M.B. performed the experiments. B.H.G. and C.A.O. wrote the original draft of the manuscript. B.H.G., M.S.B., H.I. and C.A.O. reviewed and edited the final manuscript. C.A.O. acquired funding. H.I. and C.A.O. provided resources and materials. H.I. and C.A.O. supervised the study.

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Correspondence to Christian A. Olsen.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary experimental data, chemical compound characterization data, Supplementary Figs. 1–26, Supplementary Tables 1–3 and copies of 1H and 13C NMR spectra.

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Gless, B.H., Bojer, M.S., Peng, P. et al. Identification of autoinducing thiodepsipeptides from staphylococci enabled by native chemical ligation. Nat. Chem. 11, 463–469 (2019).

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