The sil Locus in Streptococcus Anginosus Group: Interspecies Competition and a Hotspot of Genetic Diversity
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The Streptococcus Invasion Locus (Sil) was first described in Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus pneumoniae, where it has been implicated in virulence. The two-component peptide signaling system consists of the SilA response regulator and SilB histidine kinase along with the SilCR signaling peptide and SilD/E export/processing proteins. The presence of an associated bacteriocin region suggests this system may play a role in competitive interactions with other microbes. Comparative analysis of 42 Streptococcus Anginosus/Milleri Group (SAG) genomes reveals this to be a hot spot for genomic variability. A cluster of bacteriocin/immunity genes is found adjacent to the sil system in most SAG isolates (typically 6-10 per strain). In addition, there were two distinct SilCR peptides identified in this group, denoted here as SilCRSAG-A and SilCRSAG-B, with corresponding alleles in silB. Our analysis of the 42 sil loci showed that SilCRSAG-A is only found in Streptococcus intermedius while all three species can carry SilCRSAG-B. In S. intermedius B196, a putative SilA operator is located upstream of bacteriocin gene clusters, implicating the sil system in regulation of microbe-microbe interactions at mucosal surfaces where the group resides. We demonstrate that S. intermedius B196 responds to its cognate SilCRSAG-A, and, less effectively, to SilCRSAG-B released by other Anginosus group members, to produce putative bacteriocins and inhibit the growth of a sensitive strain of S. constellatus.
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