Journal of bacteriology

The fsr Quorum-Sensing System and Cognate Gelatinase Orchestrate the Expression and Processing of Proprotein EF_1097 into the Mature Antimicrobial Peptide Enterocin O16.

PMID 25733609


A novel antimicrobial peptide designated enterocin O16 was purified from Enterococcus faecalis. Mass spectrometry showed a monoisotopic mass of 7,231 Da, and N-terminal Edman degradation identified a 29-amino-acid sequence corresponding to residues 90 to 119 of the EF_1097 protein. Bioinformatic analysis showed that enterocin O16 is composed of the 68 most C-terminal residues of the EF_1097 protein. Introduction of an in-frame isogenic deletion in the ef1097 gene abolished the production of enterocin O16. Enterocin O16 has a narrow inhibitory spectrum, as it inhibits mostly lactobacilli. Apparently, E. faecalis is intrinsically resistant to the antimicrobial peptide, as no immunity connected to the production of enterocin O16 could be identified. ef1097 has previously been identified as one of three loci regulated by the fsr quorum-sensing system. The introduction of a nonsense mutation into fsrB consistently impaired enterocin O16 production, but externally added gelatinase biosynthesis-activating pheromone restored the antimicrobial activity. Functional genetic analysis showed that the EF_1097 proprotein is processed extracellularly into enterocin O16 by the metalloprotease GelE. Thus, it is evident that the fsr quorum-sensing system constitutes the regulatory unit that controls the expression of the EF_1097 precursor protein and the protease GelE and that the latter is required for the formation of enterocin O16. On the basis of these results, this study identified antibacterial antagonism as a novel aspect related to the function of fsr and provides a rationale for why ef1097 is part of the fsr regulon. The fsr quorum-sensing system modulates important physiological functions in E. faecalis via the activity of GelE. The present study presents a new facet of fsr signaling. The system controls the expression of three primary target operons (fsrABCD, gelE-sprE, and ef1097-ef1097b). We demonstrate that the concerted expression of these operons constitutes the elements necessary for the production of a bacteriocin-type peptide and that antimicrobial antagonism is an intrinsic function of fsr. The bacteriocin enterocin O16 consists of the 68 most C-terminal residues of the EF_1097 secreted proprotein. The GelE protease processes the EF_1097 proprotein into enterocin O16. In this manner, fsr signaling enables E. faecalis populations to express antimicrobial activity in a cell density-dependent manner.