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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2009 Feb;53(2):651-61. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01189-08. Epub 2008 Dec 1.

Immunity to the bacteriocin sublancin 168 Is determined by the SunI (YolF) protein of Bacillus subtilis.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University Medical Center Groningen and University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Bacillus subtilis strain 168 produces the extremely stable lantibiotic sublancin 168, which has a broad spectrum of bactericidal activity. Both sublancin 168 production and producer immunity are determined by the SPbeta prophage. While the sunA and sunT genes for sublancin 168 production have been known for several years, the genetic basis for sublancin 168 producer immunity has remained elusive. Therefore, the present studies were aimed at identifying an SPbeta gene(s) for sublancin 168 immunity. By systematic deletion analysis, we were able to pinpoint one gene, named yolF, as the sublancin 168 producer immunity gene. Growth inhibition assays performed using plates and liquid cultures revealed that YolF is both required and sufficient for sublancin 168 immunity even when heterologously produced in the sublancin-sensitive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Accordingly, we propose to rename yolF to sunI (for sublancin immunity). Subcellular localization studies indicate that the SunI protein is anchored to the membrane with a single N-terminal membrane-spanning domain that has an N(out)-C(in) topology. Thus, the bulk of the protein faces the cytoplasm of B. subtilis. This topology has not yet been reported for known bacteriocin producer immunity proteins, which implies that SunI belongs to a novel class of bacteriocin antagonists.

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