Plasmid biology of natural Lactococcus lactis strains and molecular mechanisms of bacteriophage-host interaction

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Fallico, Vincenzo
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University College Cork
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Lacticin 3147, enterocin AS-48, lacticin 481, variacin, and sakacin P are bacteriocins offering promising perspectives in terms of preservation and shelf-life extension of food products and should find commercial application in the near future. The studies detailing their characterization and bio-preservative applications are reviewed. Transcriptomic analyses showed a cell wall-targeted response of Lactococcus lactis IL1403 during the early stages of infection with the lytic bacteriophage c2, which is probably orchestrated by a number of membrane stress proteins and involves D-alanylation of membrane lipoteichoic acids, restoration of the physiological proton motive force disrupted following bacteriophage infection, and energy conservation. Sequencing of the eight plasmids of L. lactis subsp. cremoris DPC3758 from raw milk cheese revealed three anti-phage restriction/modification (R/M) systems, immunity/resistance to nisin, lacticin 481, cadmium and copper, and six conjugative/mobilization regions. A food-grade derivative strain with enhanced bacteriophage resistance was generated via stacking of R/M plasmids. Sequencing and functional analysis of the four plasmids of L. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis DPC3901 from raw milk cheese revealed genes novel to Lactococcus and typical of bacteria associated with plants, in addition to genes associated with plant-derived lactococcal strains. The functionality of a novel high-affinity regulated system for cobalt uptake was demonstrated. The bacteriophage resistant and bacteriocin-producing plasmid pMRC01 places a metabolic burden on lactococcal hosts resulting in lowered growth rates and increased cell permeability and autolysis. The magnitude of these effects is strain dependent but not related to bacteriocin production. Starters’ acidification capacity is not significantly affected. Transcriptomic analyses showed that pMRC01 abortive infection (Abi) system is probably subjected to a complex regulatory control by Rgg-like ORF51 and CopG-like ORF58 proteins. These regulators are suggested to modulate the activity of the putative Abi effectors ORF50 and ORF49 exhibiting topology and functional similarities to the Rex system aborting bacteriophage λ lytic growth.
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Fallico, V. 2011. Plasmid biology of natural Lactococcus lactis strains and molecular mechanisms of bacteriophage-host interaction. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.