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Trends Microbiol. 2006 Aug;14(8):339-45. Epub 2006 Jul 3.

Independent evolution of competence regulatory cascades in streptococci?

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie et Génétique Moléculaires, UMR 5100 CNRS-Université Paul Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 9, France.


Natural genetic transformation is a mechanism of horizontal gene transfer that is widely distributed in bacteria and requires assembly of a DNA uptake machinery. Transformable bacteria use fundamentally the same machine, which in most species is assembled only in cells that are developing competence. Competence regulation usually differs between unrelated species. Here, we examine whether related streptococci use the same competence regulatory cascade. Phylogenetic analyses of streptococcal genome sequences reveal the existence of two paralogous two-component regulatory systems, either of which might control competence. This suggests the distribution of streptococci into two groups that use competence regulatory cascades that have at least partly evolved independently. Comparison of data obtained with two transformable streptococci, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus mutans, provides support to this suggestion.

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