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Microbiology. 2007 Dec;153(Pt 12):3939-47.

Making sense of quorum sensing in lactobacilli: a special focus on Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1.

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TI Food and Nutrition, Nieuwe Kanaal 9A, 6709 PA Wageningen, The Netherlands.


In silico identification criteria were defined to predict if genes encoding histidine protein kinases (HPKs) and response regulators (RRs) could be part of peptide-based quorum sensing (QS) two-component regulatory systems (QS-TCSs) in Firmicutes. These criteria were used to screen HPKs and RRs annotated on the completed genome sequences of Lactobacillus species, and several (putative) QS-TCSs were identified in this way. The five peptide-based QS-TCSs that were predicted on the Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 genome were further analysed to test their (QS) functionality. Four of these systems contained an upstream gene encoding a putative autoinducing peptide (AIP), of which two were preceded by a double-glycine-type leader peptide. One of these was identical to the plnABCD regulatory system of L. plantarum C11 and was shown to regulate plantaricin production in L. plantarum WCFS1. The third TCS was designated lamBDCA for Lactobacillus agr-like module, where the lamD gene was shown to encode a cyclic thiolactone peptide. The fourth TCS was paralogous to the lam system and contained a putative AIP-encoding gene but lacked the lamB gene. Finally, a genetically separated orphan HPK and RR that showed clear peptide-based QS characteristics could form a fifth peptide-based QS-TCS. The predicted presence of multiple (peptide-based) QS-TCSs in some lactobacilli and in particular in L. plantarum might be a reflection of the ability of these species to persist in a diverse range of ecological niches.

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