Synopsis of Structural, Biosynthetic, and Chemical Aspects of Glycopeptide Antibiotics

Part of the Topics in Current Chemistry book series (TOPCURRCHEM, volume 267)


Glycopeptide antibiotics represent a very important group of natural products with regard to medicinal application as antibacterials and for cancer treatment. A characteristic for assignment as a glycopeptide antibiotic, next to antibiotic potential, is the modification of the peptide aglycon with various types of carbohydrates. According to this definition, vancomycin (including five subtypes), ramoplanin, bleomycin, mannopeptimycins and salmochelin belong to the family of glycopeptide antibiotics. In this article, an overview is given on the structural aspects, the biosynthesis and the mode of action of glycopeptide antibiotics. Structure–activity relationships of important functional groups contributing to enhanced antibiotic properties are highlighted. Finally, similarities with regard to structural features, the biosyntheses and the modes of actions are discussed. According to current knowledge, glycopeptide antibiotics mostly act as inhibitors of bacterial cell wall biosynthesis. It is to be expected that the actual list of glycopeptides will be continuously extended due to discoveries from ongoing screening programs.

Bleomycin Mannopeptimycin Ramoplanin Salmochelin Vancomycin 



Acyl carrier protein






2,4-Diaminobutyric acid


2,3-Dihydroxybenzoic acid




2,3-Diaminopropionic acid


Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance








Minimum inhibitory concentration




Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus


Non-ribosomal peptide synthetase


Open reading frame


Pyrimidoblamic acid


Penicillin binding protein


Polyketide synthase


Structure–activity relationship


Vancomycin-resistant enterococci


Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus


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This work was supported by a grant of the European Union (COMBIG-TOP, LSHG-CT-2003-503491), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, SU 239/3-3) and by an Emmy-Noether-Fellowship for young investigators of the DFG (SU 239/2-2).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Chemie/FG Organische ChemieTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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