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Front Microbiol. 2018 Jan 15;8:2688. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02688. eCollection 2017.

Streptococcus pneumoniae Proteins AmiA, AliA, and AliB Bind Peptides Found in Ribosomal Proteins of Other Bacterial Species.

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Institute for Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Department of Clinical Research, Proteomics and Mass Spectrometry Core Facility, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


The nasopharynx is frequently colonized by both commensal and pathogenic bacteria including Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). Pneumococcus is an important pathogen responsible for bacterial meningitis and community acquired pneumonia but is also commonly an asymptomatic colonizer of the nasopharynx. Understanding interactions between microbes may provide insights into pathogenesis. Here, we investigated the ability of the three oligopeptide-binding proteins AmiA, AliA, and AliB of an ATP-binding cassette transporter of pneumococcus to detect short peptides found in other bacterial species. We found three possible peptide ligands for AmiA and four each for AliA and AliB of which two for each protein matched ribosomal proteins of other bacterial species. Using synthetic peptides we confirmed the following binding: AmiA binds peptide AKTIKITQTR, matching 50S ribosomal subunit protein L30, AliA binds peptide FNEMQPIVDRQ, matching 30S ribosomal protein S20, and AliB binds peptide AIQSEKARKHN, matching 30S ribosomal protein S20, without excluding the possibility of binding of the other peptides. These Ami-AliA/AliB peptide ligands are found in multiple species in the class of Gammaproteobacteria which includes common colonizers of the nostrils and nasopharynx. Binding such peptides may enable pneumococcus to detect and respond to neighboring species in its environment and is a potential mechanism for interspecies communication and environmental surveillance.


ABC transporter; Ami–AliA/AliB permease; Streptococcus pneumoniae; interspecies communication; peptide

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