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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2012 May;94(4):1069-78. doi: 10.1007/s00253-011-3775-4. Epub 2011 Dec 9.

Evolution and some functions of the NprR-NprRB quorum-sensing system in the Bacillus cereus group.

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Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, A. C. Carretera a La Victoria Km 0.6, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.


Quorum-sensing (QS) is a bacterial mechanism for regulation of gene expression in response to cell density. In Gram-positive bacteria, oligopeptides are the signaling molecules to elicit QS. The RNPP protein family (Rap, NprR, PlcR, and PrgX) are intracellular QS receptors that bind directly to their specific signaling peptide for regulating the transcription of several genes. NprR is the activator of a neutral protease in Bacillus subtilis, and it has been recently related to sporulation, cry genes transcription and extracellular protease activity in strains from the B. cereus group. In the B. thuringiensis genome, downstream nprR, a gene encoding a putative QS signaling propeptide (nprRB) was found. We hypothesized that the nprR and nprRB co-evolved because of their coordinated function in the B. cereus group. A phylogenetic tree of nucleotide sequences of nprR revealed six pherotypes, each corresponding to one putative mature NprRB sequence. The nprR tree does not match the current taxonomic grouping of the B. cereus group or the phylogenetic arrangement obtained when using MLST markers from the same strains. SKPDI and other synthetic peptides encoded in the nprRB gene from B. thuringiensis serovar thuringiensis strain 8741 had effect on temporal regulation of sporulation and expression of a cry1Aa'Z transcriptional fusion, but those peptides that stimulated earlier detection of spores decreased cry1Aa expression suggesting that NprR may either activate or repress the transcription of different genes.

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