1022-7954/02/3806- $27.00 © 2002
Russian Journal of Genetics, Vol. 38, No. 6, 2002, pp. 628–641. Translated from Genetika, Vol. 38, No. 6, 2002, pp. 758–772.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2002 by Kotelnikova, Gelfand.
Most bacteria are capable of inﬂuencing the
growth and development of other, generally, closely
related, bacterial species in the medium. This is often
related to the production of protein molecules, so-
called bacteriocins, by the bacteria [1–4]. Until lately,
colicins from Gram-negative bacteria were mainly
studied . However, recently more attention has
been paid to the study of Gram-positive, in particular,
lactic acid, bacteria.
Many of Gram-positive bacteria that produce bacte-
riocins are capable of quorum sensing, i.e., the ability
to control the synthesis of various proteins depending
on cell density in the medium [6–8]. A two-component
signal transduction system is used to ensure this mech-
anism. In some cases, it is known that a response regu-
lator of this system binds with certain direct repeats sit-
uated upstream of the promoter of a bacteriocin operon,
which causes the activation of transcription [1, 2]. As a
rule, a signal peptide gene (often the bacteriocin per se),
by means of which the organism gets information on
cell density in the medium, is situated within the con-
trolled operon, which ensures autoregulation.
In this review, we consider the genetic bases of the
production of antibacterial peptides, show all known
regulatory sites in the organisms producing class II pep-
tides, and present the repeats that we found in
OF GRAM-POSITIVE BACTERIA
To understand the place of
bacteriocins among a wide range of bacterial interac-
tions, let us specify what kinds of antibiotics are gener-
ally known. In the general case, a chemical substance
that is produced by an organism and is harmful to
another organism can be considered antibiotic. How-
ever, in fact, antibiotics are usually referred to as sec-
ondary metabolites that inhibit growth even at rela-
tively low concentrations, thus excluding the effect of
metabolic by-products, such as ammonia, organic
acids, and hydrogen peroxide. Probably, most bacteria
can produce substances of different nature that inhibit
the growth of both the producer species and other bac-
teria. These substances include the following: (1) tox-
ins; (2) bacteriolytic enzymes, such as lysostaphin,
phospholypase A, and hemolysins; (3) bacteriophages
and defective bacteriophages; (4) antibacterially active
by-products of main metabolic pathways; (5) polypep-
tide antibiotics, such as gramicidin, valinomycin, and
bacitracin, which are synthesized by multienzyme sys-
tems and whose synthesis is not directly blocked up by
inhibitors of ribosomal protein synthesis, in contrast to
bacteriocin-like antibiotics; (6) bacteriocins and bacte-
riocin-like molecules (polypeptides or polypeptide pre-
cursors that are synthesized directly on ribosomes) .
Below, we consider the last item in more detail.
General information on bacteriocins.
are peptide molecules that are synthesized on ribo-
somes and possess antibacterial activity. The bacterio-
cins of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria have
some similar characteristics, although they are signiﬁ-
cantly different in many respects.
Most bacteriocins of Gram-positive bacteria affect a
wider range of bacteria (including various species of
both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria) than
colicins (bacteriocins of Gram-negative bacteria).
Bacteriocin Production by Gram-Positive Bacteria
and the Mechanisms of Transcriptional Regulation
E. A. Kotelnikova
and M. S. Gelfand
State Research Institute of Genetics and Selection of Industrial Microorganisms, Moscow, 113545 Russia;
, a/b 348, Moscow 117333 Russia; e-mail: email@example.com
Received November 9, 2001
—The mechanisms of production of bacteriocins in Gram-positive bacteria and the main distinctions
of these bacteriocins from the bacteriocins of Gram-negative bacteria (colicins) are outlined. A classiﬁcation of
antibacterial peptides is presented, and most of known class I and II peptides are pointed out. In Gram-positive
bacteria, the cases of bacteriocin-associated quorum sensing are examined. For these cases, the structure of loci
containing the genes of regulatory systems, transport, immunity, processing, and posttranslational modiﬁcation
of antibacterial peptides are described. All known regulatory sites for class II bacteriocins are presented. A descrip-
tion of the putative regulatory sites found by us and their classiﬁcation are provided. The evolutionary tree of
transcriptional response regulators is shown to correspond to the tree of their recognition sites.