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J Appl Microbiol. 2003;94(2):214-29.

Isolation and biochemical characterisation of enterocins produced by enterococci from different sources.

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Research Group of Industrial Microbiology, Fermentation Technology and Downstream Processing (IMDO), Department of Applied Biological Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.



Comparison of enterocins produced by six Enterococcus faecium strains and one Ent. faecalis strain isolated from different origin with regard to their microbiological and biochemical characteristics in view of their technological potential and practical use.


The seven enterococci were sensitive to the glycopeptide antibiotics vancomycin and teicoplanin and did not show haemolytic activity. The absence of the glycopeptide-resistant genotypes and the genes involved in the production of the lantibiotic cytolysin was confirmed by PCR. The enterocins were active towards Listeria innocua and other lactic acid bacteria. Their temperature stability was dependent on the pH and their activity was higher at acidic pH. A bactericidal and bacteriolytic effect was shown. PCR analyses revealed that the gene of enterocin A was present in the genome of Ent. faecium CCM 4231, Ent. faecium 306 I.2.20 and Ent. faecalis Y; both enterocin A and B genes were present in the genome of Ent. faecium LMG 11423T, Ent. faecium RZS C5 and Ent. faecium RZS C13. Enterocin P was detected in the genome of Ent. faecium RZS C5 and Ent. faecium RZS C13. No signal was found for Ent. faecium SF 68. Enterocins from Ent. faecium RZS C5, Ent. faecium RZS C13 and Ent. faecium SF 68 were purified to homogeneity.


Ent. faecium RZS C5 and Ent. faecium RZS C13 produced an enterocin with a molecular mass of 5460 and 5477 Da, respectively, which was in the range of that of enterocin B. The amino acid sequence analysis of the enterocin from Ent. faecium RZS C13 revealed 24 N-terminal residues, which were identical to those of enterocin B. The enterocin from Ent. faecium SF 68 had a molecular mass of 4488 Da, which did not correspond to any enterocin known so far.


The number of characterized enterocins is increasing. As this type of work is tedious and time-consuming, it may be interesting to include PCR as a first step to know if the Enterococcus strain in study produces either a known or a new enterocin. Also, it is important to check the absence of cytolysin and resistance to vancomycin for a further application of the Enterococcus strain in food or health applications.

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