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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2007 Apr;31(3):293-310. Epub 2007 Feb 9.

Diversity of enterococcal bacteriocins and their grouping in a new classification scheme.

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Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food, Institute for Hygiene and Toxicology, Karlsruhe, Germany.


Enterococci are lactic acid bacteria of importance in food, public health and medical microbiology. Many strains produce bacteriocins, some of which have been well characterized. This review describes the structural and genetic characteristics of enterocins, the bacteriocins produced by enterococci. Some of these can be grouped with typical bacteriocins produced by lactic acid bacteria according to traditional classification, whereas others are atypical and structurally distinct from the general classes of bacteriocins. These atypical enterocins recently played an important role in and prompted reclassification of the class II bacteriocins into a new scheme. In this review, a more simplified classification scheme for enterocins based on amino acid sequence homologies is proposed. Enterocins are of interest for their diversity and potential for use as food biopreservatives. The emergence of multiple antibiotic-resistant enterococci among agents of nosocomial disease and the presence of virulence factors among food isolates requires a careful safety evaluation of isolates intended for potential biotechnical use. Nevertheless, enterococcal bacteriocins produced by heterologous hosts or added as cell-free preparations may still be attractive for application in food preservation.

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