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Microbiology. 2002 Nov;148(Pt 11):3661-70.

Comparative studies of immunity proteins of pediocin-like bacteriocins.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Oslo, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway.


Genes encoding pediocin-like bacteriocins are usually co-transcribed with a gene encoding a cognate immunity protein. To investigate the functionality and specificity of immunity proteins, immunity genes belonging to the bacteriocins curvacin A, enterocin A, enterocin P, leucocin A, pediocin PA-1 and sakacin P, as well as a putative immunity gene, orfY, were expressed in three bacteriocin-sensitive lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus sake, Carnobacterium piscicola and Enterococcus faecalis). The transformed indicator strains, each containing one of the immunity genes, were tested for sensitivity towards seven different purified bacteriocins (curvacin A, enterocin A, enterocin P, leucocin A, leucocin C, pediocin PA-1 and sakacin P). Cross-immunity was observed almost exclusively in situations where either the bacteriocins or the immunity proteins belonged to the same sequence-based subgroup. In a few cases, the functionality of immunity proteins was strain-dependent; e.g. the leucocin A immunity gene provided immunity to enterocin A, pediocin PA-1 and leucocin A in Ent. faecalis, whereas in the other two indicators, this gene provided immunity to leucocin A only. The orfY gene, which is transcribed without a cognate bacteriocin, was shown to encode a functional immunity protein that expands the bacteriocin resistance of the strain possessing this gene. The results show that the bacteriocin sensitivity of a lactic acid bacterium strain can depend on (1) the presence of immunity genes in connection with its own bacteriocin production, (2) the presence of extra immunity genes and (3) more general properties of the strain such as the membrane composition or the presence of receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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