Functional characterization of a three-component regulatory system involved in quorum sensing-based regulation of peptide antibiotic production in Carnobacterium maltaromaticum

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Abstract

Background: Quorum sensing is a form of cell-to-cell communication that allows bacteria to control a wide range of physiological processes in a population density-dependent manner. Production of peptide antibiotics is one of the processes regulated by quorum sensing in several species of Gram-positive bacteria, including strains of Carnobacterium maltaromaticum. This bacterium and its peptide antibiotics are of interest due to their potential applications in food preservation. The molecular bases of the quorum sensing phenomenon controlling peptide antibiotic production in C. maltaromaticum remain poorly understood. The present study was aimed at gaining a deeper insight into the molecular mechanism involved in quorum sensing-mediated regulation of peptide antibiotic (bacteriocin) production by C. maltaromaticum. We report the functional analyses of the CS (autoinducer)-CbnK (histidine protein kinase)-CbnR (response regulator) three-component regulatory system and the three regulated promoters involved in peptide antibiotic production in C. maltaromaticum LV17B. Results: CS-CbnK-CbnR system-dependent activation of carnobacterial promoters was demonstrated in both homologous and heterologous hosts using a two-plasmid system with a β-glucuronidase (GusA) reporter readout. The results of our analyses support a model in which the CbnK-CbnR two-component signal transduction system is necessary and sufficient to transduce the signal of the peptide autoinducer CS into the activation of the promoters that drive the expression of the genes required for production of the carnobacterial peptide antibiotics and the immunity proteins that protect the producer bacterium. Conclusions: The CS-CbnK-CbnR triad forms a three-component regulatory system by which production of peptide antibiotics by C. maltaromaticum LV17B is controlled in a population density-dependent (or cell proximitydependent) manner. This regulatory mechanism would permit the bacterial population to synchronize the production of peptide antibiotics and immunity proteins. Such a population-wide action would afford a substantial peptide antibiotic production burst that could increase the ability of the bacterium to inhibit susceptible bacterial competitors. Finally, our CS-CbnK-CbnR-based two-plasmid expression system represents a suitable genetic tool for undertaking structure-function relationship analyses to map the amino acid residues in the components of the CS-CbnK-CbnR system that are required for biological activity. This plasmid system also has potential as a starting point for developing alternative vectors for controlled gene expression in C. maltaromaticum, Lactococcus lactis, and related lactic acid bacteria. © 2006 Rohde and Quadri; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Rohde, B. H., & Quadri, L. E. N. (2006). Functional characterization of a three-component regulatory system involved in quorum sensing-based regulation of peptide antibiotic production in Carnobacterium maltaromaticum. BMC Microbiology, 6. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2180-6-93

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