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Eavesdropping and crosstalk between secreted quorum sensing peptide signals that regulate bacteriocin production in Streptococcus pneumoniae

Miller, E. L., Kjos, M., Abrudan, M., Roberts, I. S., Veening, J-W. & Rozen, D. E., Oct-2018, In : ISME Journal. 12, 10, p. 2363-2375 13 p.

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  • Eavesdropping and crosstalk between secreted quorum sensing peptide signals

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DOI

Quorum sensing (QS), where bacteria secrete and respond to chemical signals to coordinate population-wide behaviors, has revealed that bacteria are highly social. Here, we investigate how diversity in QS signals and receptors can modify social interactions controlled by the QS system regulating bacteriocin secretion in Streptococcus pneumoniae, encoded by the blp operon (bacteriocin-like peptide). Analysis of 4096 pneumococcal genomes detected nine blp QS signals (BlpC) and five QS receptor groups (BlpH). Imperfect concordance between signals and receptors suggested widespread social interactions between cells, specifically eavesdropping (where cells respond to signals that they do not produce) and crosstalk (where cells produce signals that non-clones detect). This was confirmed in vitro by measuring the response of reporter strains containing six different blp QS receptors to cognate and non-cognate peptides. Assays between pneumococcal colonies grown adjacent to one another provided further evidence that crosstalk and eavesdropping occur at endogenous levels of signal secretion. Finally, simulations of QS strains producing bacteriocins revealed that eavesdropping can be evolutionarily beneficial even when the affinity for non-cognate signals is very weak. Our results highlight that social interactions can mediate intraspecific competition among bacteria and reveal that competitive interactions can be modified by polymorphic QS systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2363-2375
Number of pages13
JournalISME Journal
Volume12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2018

    Keywords

  • NASOPHARYNGEAL CARRIAGE, VIBRIO-HARVEYI, IN-VIVO, EVOLUTION, SPECIFICITY, COOPERATION, COMPETENCE, DIFFUSION, MICROORGANISMS, RECOMBINATION

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