Bacterial Interference Caused by Autoinducing Peptide Variants

Science  27 Jun 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5321, pp. 2027-2030
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5321.2027

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The synthesis of virulence factors and other extracellular proteins by Staphylococcus aureus is globally controlled by theagr locus, which encodes a two-component signaling pathway whose activating ligand is an agr-encoded autoinducing peptide. The cognate peptides produced by some strains inhibit the expression of agr in other strains, and the amino acid sequences of peptide and receptor are markedly different between such strains, suggesting a hypervariability-generating mechanism. Cross-inhibition of gene expression represents a type of bacterial interference that could be correlated with the ability of one strain to exclude others from infection or colonization sites, or both.

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