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Summary

There are many examples of highly modified antimicrobial peptides in nature, many of which are non-ribosomally synthesized. However, the bacterial lantibiotics are produced as gene-encoded pre-peptides that are subsequently modified by dedicated enzyme systems to form extraordinarily potent inhibitors. Consequently, they are much more amenable to bioengineering which could lead to the generation of a new arsenal of potent antimicrobials. However, although bioengineering of these compounds has been underway for at least two decades, significant progress has only been reported in recent years. This review charts these recent developments which suggest that we are entering a ‘Golden era’ of lantibiotic bioengineering.