Pheromone-induced expression of recombinant proteins inStreptococcus thermophilus

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A locus encoding proteins with high homology to the pneumococcal BlpABCHR quorum-sensing system was identified in Streptococcus thermophilus LMG 18311. The BlpABCHR system regulates bacteriocin production in Streptococcus pneumoniae by monitoring the extracellular concentration of a peptide-pheromone encoded by blpC. The homologous system in S. thermophilus, termed StbABCHR, contains a corresponding gene (stbC) encoding a possible peptide-pheromone (STP) that presumably controls bacteriocin production in S. thermophilus. We synthesized this peptide and found that it activates transcription of a gusA reporter gene placed behind the promoter of the bacteriocin-like gene stbD. Furthermore, deletion mapping and mutational analysis of the stbD promoter region were used to identify a degenerated direct repeat motif required for STP induced GusA expression. Our findings provide strong evidence that STP regulates bacteriocin production in S. thermophilus LMG 18311, and show that the StbABCHR quorum-sensing system can be exploited for inducible expression of recombinant proteins in this bacterial species.

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