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Mol Microbiol. 2013 Nov;90(3):502-18. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12380. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

Contributions of the σ(W) , σ(M) and σ(X) regulons to the lantibiotic resistome of Bacillus subtilis.

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Department of Microbiology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA.


In Bacillus subtilis, the extracytoplasmic function (ECF) σ factors σ(M) , σ(W) and σ(X) all contribute to resistance against lantibiotics. Nisin, a model lantibiotic, has a dual mode of action: it inhibits cell wall synthesis by binding lipid II, and this complex also forms pores in the cytoplasmic membrane. These activities can be separated in a nisin hinge-region variant (N20P M21P) that binds lipid II, but no longer permeabilizes membranes. The major contribution of σ(M) to nisin resistance is expression of ltaSa, encoding a stress-activated lipoteichoic acid synthase, and σ(X) functions primarily by activation of the dlt operon controlling d-alanylation of teichoic acids. Together, σ(M) and σ(X) regulate cell envelope structure to decrease access of nisin to its lipid II target. In contrast, σ(W) is principally involved in protection against membrane permeabilization as it provides little protection against the nisin hinge region variant. σ(W) contributes to nisin resistance by regulation of a signal peptide peptidase (SppA), phage shock proteins (PspA and YvlC, a PspC homologue) and tellurite resistance related proteins (YceGHI). These defensive mechanisms are also effective against other lantibiotics such as mersacidin, gallidermin and subtilin and comprise an important subset of the intrinsic antibiotic resistome of B. subtilis.

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