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J Bacteriol. 2007 Jun;189(11):4168-79. Epub 2007 Apr 6.

Eukaryotic-type serine/threonine protein kinase StkP is a global regulator of gene expression in Streptococcus pneumoniae.

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Cell and Molecular Microbiology Division, Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Vídenská 1083, 142 20 Prague 4, Czech Republic.


Signal transduction pathways in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes utilize protein phosphorylation as a key regulatory mechanism. Recent studies have proven that eukaryotic-type serine/threonine protein kinases (Hank's type) are widespread in many bacteria, although little is known regarding the cellular processes they control. In this study, we have attempted to establish the role of a single eukaryotic-type protein kinase, StkP of Streptococcus pneumoniae, in bacterial survival. Our results indicate that the expression of StkP is important for the resistance of S. pneumoniae to various stress conditions. To investigate the impact of StkP on this phenotype, we compared the whole-genome expression profiles of the wild-type and DeltastkP mutant strains by microarray technology. This analysis revealed that StkP positively controls the transcription of a set of genes encoding functions involved in cell wall metabolism, pyrimidine biosynthesis, DNA repair, iron uptake, and oxidative stress response. Despite the reduced transformability of the stkP mutant, we found that the competence regulon was derepressed in the stkP mutant under conditions that normally repress natural competence development. Furthermore, the competence regulon was expressed independently of exogenous competence-stimulating peptide. In summary, our studies show that a eukaryotic-type serine/threonine protein kinase functions as a global regulator of gene expression in S. pneumoniae.

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