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The blp Bacteriocins of Streptococcus pneumoniae Mediate Intraspecies Competition both In Vitro and In Vivo

Dawid, Suzanne, Roche, Aoife M., Weiser, Jeffrey N.
Infection and immunity 2007 v.75 no.1 pp. 443-451
Streptococcus pneumoniae, amino acid sequences, amino acids, bacteriocins, immunity, loci, mice, mutants, nasopharynx, operon, peptides, serotypes
The introduction of the conjugate seven-valent pneumococcal vaccine has led to the replacement of vaccine serotypes with nonvaccine serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae. This observation implies that intraspecies competition between pneumococci occurs during nasopharyngeal colonization, allowing one strain or set of strains to predominate over others. We investigated the contribution of the blp locus, encoding putative bacteriocins and cognate immunity peptides, to intraspecies competition. We sequenced the relevant regions of the blp locus of a type 6A strain able to inhibit the growth of the type 4 strain, TIGR4, in vitro. Using deletional analysis, we confirmed that inhibitory activity is regulated by the function of the response regulator, BlpR, and requires the two putative bacteriocin genes blpM and blpN. Comparison of the TIGR4 BlpM and -N amino acid sequences demonstrated that only five amino acid differences were sufficient to target the heterologous strain. Analysis of a number of clinical isolates suggested that the BlpMN bacteriocins divide into two families. A mutant in the blpMN operon created in the clinically relevant type 19A background was deficient in both bacteriocin activity and immunity. This strain was unable to compete with both its parent strain and a serotype 4 isolate during cocolonization in the mouse nasopharynx, suggesting that the locus is functional in vivo and confirming its role in promoting intraspecies competition.