Intermicrobial binding plays an important role in the ecology of the oral cavity because it represents one mechanism by which specific bacteria colonize dental plaque. The formation of “corncobs”, a morphologically distinct microbial unit composed of Streptococcus crista and Fusobacterium nucleatum, is a highly specific binding interaction that depends on the presence of polar tufts of fimbriae on the streptococci. We have used a genetic approach to examine the role of streptococcal cell surface components involved in the binding of S. crista to F. nucleatum. Such binding may be an important component of corncob formation. A method for the genetic transformation of S. crista was used to transfer the broad host range transposon, Tn916, into the bacteria. Cells were grown to early log phase in brain heart infusion broth containing 10% fetal calf serum. The competent cells were mixed with purified DNA from pDL916, a plasmid construct consisting of Tn916 and the streptococcal/Escherichia coli shuttle vector pDL278. Over 300 transformants were screened for a reduction in binding to F. nucleatum. Five of the transformants showed a change in binding ranging from 59% to 29% of the positive control values. Southern blots revealed that the binding-deficient transformants contained the Tn916 element integrated into one of 4 different sites in the chromosome. The transposon, integrated into 4 different sites, appeared to be stable in the absence of selective pressure. Based on these findings, it appears that some strains of S. crista are naturally competent and that insertional inactivation methods can be used to facilitate the study of binding receptors in this group of oral streptococci.
Streptococcus crista; Fusobacterium nucleatum; corncob; transposon; transformation; dental plaque
A functional pyc gene was isolated from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis C2 and was found to complement a Pyc defect in L. lactis KB4. The deduced lactococcal Pyc protein was highly homologous to Pyc sequences of other bacteria. The pyc gene was also detected in Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris and L. lactis subsp. lactis bv. diacetylactis strains.
Even-skipped (Eve) is a transcriptional repressor involved in segment formation in Drosophila melano-gaster. In order to gain further insights into the mechanism of action of Eve we tested whether it would function as a transcriptional repressor in mammalian cells. We found that Eve was indeed a potent repressor in two different mammalian cell types and at several promoters. In vitro transcription assays confirmed that Eve directly represses transcription initiation when specifically targeted to a promoter. We also found that, unlike the case with transcriptional activators, Eve does not repress transcription synergistically. Analysis of the effect of Eve on preinitiation complex assembly in a crude HeLa cell nuclear extract demonstrated that the Eve repression domain functions by preventing the assembly of TFIID with the promoter. Our data support the hypothesis that Eve contains an active repression domain that functions specifically to prevent preinitiation complex formation.
Ll.ltrB is a functional group II intron located within a gene (ltrB) encoding a conjugative relaxase essential for transfer of the lactococcal element pRSO1. In this work, the Ll.ltrB intron was shown to be an independent mobile element capable of inserting into an intronless allele of the ltrB gene. Ll.ltrB was not observed to insert into a deletion derivative of the ltrB gene in which the intron splice site was removed. In contrast, a second vector containing a 271-nucleotide segment of ltrB spanning the Ll.ltrB splice site was shown to be a proficient recipient of intron insertion. Efficient homing was observed in the absence of a functional host homologous recombination system. This work demonstrates that the Ll.ltrB intron is a novel site-specific mobile element in lactococci and that group II intron self-transfer is a mechanism for intron dissemination among bacteria.
Two highly autolytic Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris strains (CO and 2250) were selected and analyzed for their autolytic properties. Both strains showed maximum lysis when grown in M17 broth containing a limiting concentration of glucose (0.4 to 0.5%) as the carbohydrate source. Lysis did not vary greatly with pH or temperature but was reduced when strains were grown on lactose or galactose. Growth in M17 containing excess glucose (1%) prevented autolysis, although rapid lysis of L. lactis subsp. cremoris CO did occur in the presence of 1% glucose if sodium fluoride (an inhibitor of glycolysis) was added to the medium. Maximum cell lysis in a buffer system was observed early in the stationary phase, and for CO, two pH optima were observed for log-phase and stationary-phase cells (6.5 and 8.5, respectively). Autolysins were extracted from the cell wall fraction of each strain by using either 4% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), 6 M guanidine hydrochloride, or 4 M lithium chloride, and their activities were analyzed by renaturing SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis on gels containing Micrococcus luteus or L. lactis subsp. cremoris CO cells as the substrate. More than one lytic band was observed on each substrate, with the major band having an apparent molecular mass of 48 kDa for CO. Each lytic band was present throughout growth and lysis. These results suggest that at least two different autolytic enzymes are present in the autolytic L. lactis subsp. cremoris strains. The presence of the lactococcal cell wall hydrolase gene, acmA (G. Buist, J. Kok, K. J. Leenhouts, M. Dabrowska, G. Venema, and A. J. Haandrikman, J. Bacteriol. 177:1554-1563, 1995), in strains 2250 and CO was confirmed by Southern hybridization. Analysis of an acmA deletion mutant of 2250 confirmed that the gene was involved in cell separation and had a role in cell lysis.
Analysis of a region involved in the conjugative transfer of the lactococcal conjugative element pRS01 has revealed a bacteria] group II intron. Splicing of this lactococcal intron (designated Ll.ltrB) in vivo resulted in the ligation of two exon messages (ltrBE1 and ltrBE2) which encoded a putative conjugative relaxase essential for the transfer of pRS01. Like many group II introns, the Ll.ltrB intron possessed an open reading frame (ltrA) with homology to reverse transcriptases. Remarkably, sequence analysis of ltrA suggested a greater similarity to open reading frames encoded by eukaryotic mitochondrial group II introns than to those identified to date from other bacteria. Several insertional mutations within ltrA resulted in plasmids exhibiting a conjugative transfer-deficient phenotype. These results provide the first direct evidence for splicing of a prokaryotic group II intron in vivo and suggest that conjugative transfer is a mechanism for group II intron dissemination in bacteria.
A new member of the lraI family of putative adhesin genes was cloned, from Streptococcus crista CC5A, and sequenced. The gene, scbA appears to be part of an ABC transport operon and encodes a putative peptide of 34.7 kDa. The protein contains a signal sequence with residues 17 to 21 (L-A-A-C-S) matching the consensus sequence for the prolipoprotein cleavage site of signal peptidase II. ScbA is 57 to 93% identical, at the amino acid level, with the five previous sequenced members of the LraI family. Surprisingly, ScbA does not exhibit adhesion properties characteristic of the other LraI proteins. Strain CC5A bound poorly to saliva-coated hydroxyapatite and did not coaggregate with Actinomyces naeslundii PK606. An scbA insertion-duplication mutation that abolished expression (of ScbA was created. There was no difference in fibrin binding between this mutant and wild-type CC5A. Since it is possible that ScbA could play a role in corncob formation between S. crista and Fusobacterium nucleatum, this property was examined. The mutant strain retained the ability to form corncobs. On the basis of the lack of adhesin properties it appears that ScbA is an atypical member of the LraI family.
A 6.3-kb fragment from pBF61 in Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis KR5 was cloned and found to confer an abortive phage infection (Abi+) phenotype exhibiting a reduction in efficiency of plating and plaque size for small isometric- and prolate-headed bacteriophages sk1 and c2, respectively, and to produce a 10-fold decrease in c2 phage burst size. Phage adsorption was not significantly reduced. An open reading frame of 1,098 bp was sequenced and designated abiD. Tn5 mutagenesis confirmed that abiD was required for the Abi+ phenotype.
The genes responsible for conjugative transfer of the 48.4-kb Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis ML3 plasmid pRS01 were localized by insertional mutagenesis. Integration of the IS946-containing plasmid pTRK28 into pRS01 generated a pool of stable cointegrates, including a number of plasmids altered in conjugative proficiency. Mapping of pTRK28 insertions and phenotypic analysis of cointegrate plasmids identified four distinct regions (Tra1, Tra2, Tra3, and Tra4) involved in pRS01 conjugative transfer. Tra3 corresponds closely to a region previously identified (D. G. Anderson and L. L. McKay, J. Bacteriol. 158:954-962, 1984). Another region (Tra4) was localized within an inversion sequence shown to correlate with a cell aggregation phenotype. Tra1 and Tra2, two previously unidentified regions, were located at a distance of 9 kb from Tra3. When provided in trans, a cloned portion of the Tra3 region complemented Tra3 mutants.
A geographically homogeneous population of 83 subjects, from 21 families with localized juvenile periodontitis (LJP), and 35 healthy control subjects was monitored, over a 5-year period, for the presence of the periodontal pathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis was used to monitor the distribution of genetic variants of this bacterium in LJP-susceptible subjects that converted from a healthy to a diseased periodontal status. A. actinomycetemcomitans was cultured from 57% of the LJP family members accessioned into the study. Nine of 36 LJP-susceptible subjects, in seven families, developed signs of periodontal destruction. All but one of these conversion subjects harbored A. actinomycetemcomitans. Bacterial variants representative of a single RFLP group (II) showed the strongest correlation with conversion (P < 0.002). Six of nine conversion subjects were infected with A. actinomycetemcomitans from this group. RFLP group II variants also prevailed in 8 of 22 probands but were absent in the 35 healthy control subjects. In contrast to the selective distribution of group II variants is diseased individuals, variants belonging to RFLP groups XIII and XIV were found exclusively in the control subjects. Thus, the use of RFLP to type clinical isolates of A. actinomycetemcomitans has resulted in the identification of genetic variants that predominate in LJP and health. These results indicate that studies concerned with the pathogenicity of this bacterium in LJP should be focused on the group II variants.
Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is recognized as a primary pathogen in localized juvenile periodontitis (LJP). Restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) within a collection of subgingival plaque isolates of this bacterium were identified and characterized as the first step in understanding the pathogenesis of LJP. Over 800 isolates, from members of 18 families (LJP families) with at least one member with active LJP or a documented history of the disease and one or more siblings, less than 13 years of age, having no clinical evidence of LJP and 32 healthy control subjects, were assigned to one of 13 distinct RFLP groups (II to XIV) by using a previously characterized 4.7-kb DNA probe cloned from the reference strain FDC Y4. Isolates belonging to RFLP groups II, IV, V, and XIII predominated subgingival sites in the subjects. Members of RFLP groups II, IV, VII, VIII, X, and XI were recovered only from LJP family subjects, while group XIII and XIV variants were found exclusively in healthy controls. A synthetic oligonucleotide, homologous to the 5' end of the leukotoxin gene (lktA), and the A. actinomycetemcomitans plasmid, pVT745, were tested for their abilities to subdivide the 13 RFLP groups. The leukotoxin probe specifically identified all RFLP group II variants because of the absence of a HindIII site in the upstream noncoding region of the lkt gene complex. The plasmid probe was not as selective but may be useful for identifying clinical isolates belonging to RFLP group I. The use of these probes for the identification of genetic variants of A. actinomycetemcomitans that may be preferentially colonize diseased and healthy subjects will facilitate the study of the role of this important pathogen in periodontal diseases.
The genes responsible for bacteriocin production and immunity in Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis WM4 were localized and characterized by DNA restriction fragment deletion, subcloning, and nucleotide sequence analysis. The nucleotide sequence of a 5.6-kb AvaII restriction fragment revealed a cluster with five complete open reading frames (ORFs) in the same orientation. DNA and protein homology analyses, combined with deletion and Tn5 insertion mutagenesis, implicated four of the ORFs in the production of and immunity to lactococcin A. The last two ORFs in the cluster were the lactococcin A structural and immunity genes, lcnA and lciA. The two ORFs immediately upstream of lcnA and lciA were designated lcnC and lcnD, and the proteins that they encoded showed similarities to proteins of signal sequence-independent secretion systems. lcnC encodes a protein of 716 amino acids that could belong to the HlyB family of ATP-dependent membrane translocators. LcnC contains an ATP binding domain in a conserved C-terminal stretch of approximately 200 amino acids and three putative hydrophobic segments in the N terminus. The lcnD product, LcnD, of 474 amino acids, is essential for lactococcin A expression and shows structural similarities to HlyD and its homologs. On the basis of these results, a secretion apparatus that is essential for the full expression of active lactococcin A is postulated.
A vector (pKMP10) capable of Campbell-like integration into the Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis LM0230 chromosome via homologous recombination with chromosomal IS981 sequences was constructed from the replication region of lactococcal plasmid pSK11L, an internal fragment of IS981, and the erythromycin resistance gene and Escherichia coli replication origin of pVA891. The pSK11L replication region is temperature sensitive for maintenance in L. lactis subsp. lactis LM0230, resulting in loss of unintegrated pKMP10 during growth at greater than 37 degrees C. pKMP10 integrants made up 8 to 75% of LM0230(pKMP10) erythromycin-resistant cells following successive growth at 25 degrees C with selection, 39 degrees C without selection, and 39 degrees C with selection. pKMP10 integrants were also isolated from L. lactis subsp. lactis MG1363(pKMP10) but at a 10-fold-lower frequency (4%). No integrants were isolated form L. lactis subsp. lactis MMS368(pKMP10) (a Rec-deficient strain) or LM0230(pKMP1-E) (the corresponding plasmid lacking the IS981 fragment). Examination of 17 LM0230 integrants by Southern hybridization revealed pKMP10 integration into five different chromosomal sites. Four of the integration sites appeared to be chromosomal IS981 sequences, while one was an uncharacterized chromosomal sequence. The four IS981 integrants seemed to have pKMP10 integrated in a tandem repeat structure of undetermined length. Integrated pKMP10 was more stable (0 to 2% plasmid loss) than unintegrated pKMP10 (100% plasmid loss) when grown for 100 generations at 32 degrees C without selection.
When Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis LM0230 is transformed by the lactose plasmid (pSK11L) from Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris SK11, variants with pSK11L in the integrated state can be derived (J. M. Feirtag, J. P. Petzel, E. Pasalodos, K. A. Baldwin, and L. L. McKay, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57:539-548, 1991). In the present study, a 1.65-kb XbaI-XhoI fragment of pSK11L was subcloned for use as a probe in Southern hybridization analyses of the mechanism of integration, which was shown to proceed via a Campbell-like, single-crossover event. Furthermore, the presence of the XbaI-XhoI fragment in a nonreplicating vector facilitated the stable, Rec-dependent integration of the vector into the chromosome of L. lactis subsp. lactis LM0230 and other lactococci. DNA sequence analysis of the fragment revealed an open reading frame of 885 bp with lactococcal expression sequences. The putative gene did not have significant homology with other genes in computer data bases. The XbaI-XhoI fragment is a naturally occurring piece of lactococcal DNA that can be used as a recombinogenic cassette in the construction of integration vectors for the industrially important lactococci.
The replication region of pSK11L, the lactose plasmid of Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris (L. cremoris) SK11, was isolated on a 14.8-kbp PvuII fragment by shotgun cloning into an Escherichia coli vector encoding erythromycin resistance and selection for erythromycin-resistant transformants of L. lactis subsp. lactis (L. lactis) LM0230. Deletion analysis and Tn5 mutagenesis of the resulting plasmid (pKMP1) further localized the replication region to a 2.3-kbp ScaI-SpeI fragment. DNA sequence analysis of this 2.3-kbp fragment revealed a 1,155-bp open reading frame encoding the putative replication protein, Rep. The replication origin was located upstream of rep and consisted of an 11-bp imperfect direct repeat and a 22-bp sequence tandemly repeated three and one-half times. The overall organization of the pSK11L replicon was remarkably similar to that of pCI305, suggesting that pSK11L does not replicate by the rolling-circle mechanism. Like pSK11L, pKMP1 was unstable in L. lactis LM0230. Deletion analysis allowed identification of several regions which appeared to contribute to the maintenance of pKMP1 in L. lactis LM0230. pKMP1 was significantly more stable in L. cremoris EB5 than in L. lactis LM0230 at all of the temperatures compared. This stability was lost by deletion of a 3.1-kbp PvuII-XbaI fragment which had no effect on stability in L. lactis LM0230. Other regions affecting stability in L. cremoris EB5 but not in L. lactis LM0230 were also identified. Stability assays conducted at various temperatures showed that pKMP1 maintenance was temperature sensitive in both L. lactis LM0230 and L. cremoris EB5, although the plasmid was more unstable in L. lactis LM0230. The region responsible for the temperature sensitivity phenotype in L. lactis LM0230 was tentatively localized to a 1.2-kbp ClaI-HindIII fragment which was distinct from the replication region of pSK11L. Our results suggest that the closely related L. lactis and L. cremoris subspecies behave differently regarding maintenance of plasmids.
The nisin resistance determinant of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis DRC3 was localized onto a 1.3-kb EcoRI-NdeI fragment by subcloning and interrupting the NdeI site by cloning random NdeI fragments into it; the nisin resistance determinant was then sequenced. The nucleotide sequence revealed a large open reading frame containing 318 codons. Putative transcription and translation signal sequences were located directly upstream from the initiation codon. Immediately downstream of the termination codon was a palindromic region resembling a rho-independent termination sequence. This 957-nucleotide open reading frame and its associated transcription and translation signal sequences were cloned into plasmid-free L. lactis subsp. lactis LM0230 and conferred an MIC of 160 IU of nisin per ml. This level of nisin resistance is equivalent to that of the initial nisin-resistant subclone, pFM011, used for further subcloning in this study. The inferred amino acid sequence would result in a protein with a molecular mass of 35,035 Da. This value was in agreement with the molecular mass of a protein detected after in vitro transcription and translation of DNA encoding the nisin resistance gene, nsr. This protein contained a hydrophobic region at the N terminus that was predicted to be membrane associated but did not contain a typical signal sequence cleavage site. No significant homology was detected when the DNA sequence of the nsr gene and the amino acid sequence of its putative product were compared with other available sequences. When subjected to Southern hybridization, a 1.2-kb DraI fragment encoding the nsr gene did not hybridize with the genomic DNA of the nisin-producing strain L. lactis subsp. lactis 11454.
An insertion in the lactococcal plasmid pGBK17, which inactivated the gene(s) encoding resistance to the prolate-headed phage c2, was cloned, sequenced, and identified as a new lactococcal insertion sequence (IS). IS981 was 1,222 bp in size and contained two open reading frames, one large enough to encode a transposase. IS981 ended in imperfect inverted repeats of 26 of 40 bp and generated a 5-bp direct repeat of target DNA at the site of insertion. IS981 was present on the chromosome of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis LM0230 from where it transposed to pGBK17 during transformation. Twenty-three strains of lactococci examined for the presence of IS981 by Southern hybridization showed 4 to 26 copies per genome, with L. lactis subsp. cremoris strains containing the highest number of copies. Comparison of the DNA sequence and the amino acid sequence of the long open reading frame to other known sequences showed that IS981 is related to a family of IS elements that includes IS2, IS3, IS51, IS150, IS600, IS629, IS861, IS904, and ISL1.
Evidence is presented that lactose-fermenting ability (Lac+) in Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris AM1, SK11, and ML1 is associated with plasmid DNA, even though these strains are difficult to cure of Lac plasmids. When the Lac plasmids from these strains were introduced into L. lactis subsp. lactis LM0230, they appeared to replicate in a thermosensitive manner; inheritance of the plasmid was less efficient at 32 to 40 degrees C than at 22 degrees C. The stability of the L. lactis subsp. cremoris Lac plasmids in lactococci appeared to be a combination of both host and plasmid functions. Stabilized variants were isolated by growing the cultures at 32 to 40 degrees C; these variants contained the Lac plasmids integrated into the L. lactis subsp. lactis LM0230 chromosome. In addition, the presence of the L. lactis subsp. cremoris Lac plasmids in L. lactis subsp. lactis resulted in a temperature-sensitive growth response; growth of L. lactis subsp. lactis transformants was significantly inhibited at 38 to 40 degrees C, thereby resembling some L. lactis subsp. cremoris strains with respect to temperature sensitivity of growth.
DNA-DNA homology between a reduced bacteriophage sensitivity (Rbs+) probe and DNA from both Rbs+ and Rbs- Lactococcus lactis strains was examined. Homology was detected between the probe and five plasmids (pCI750, pCC34, pEB56, pNP2, and pJS88) isolated from lactose-positive Rbs+ transconjugants and between the probe and genomic DNA of a sucrose-positive Rbs+ transconjugant. Additionally, hybridizations conducted between the probe and plasmids reported to encode abortive bacteriophage infection indicated homology with pTR2030 but not with pBF61 and pGBK17. The results suggest that a common genetic determinant(s) may be present in a variety of lactococcal plasmids coding for Rbs+.
The nisin resistance determinant and an origin of replication on pNP40, a plasmid of about 60 kilobases that is present in Streptococcus lactis subsp. diacetylactis DRC3, was cloned on a 7.6-kilobase EcoRI fragment. When self-ligated, this fragment existed as an independent replicon (pFM011) and contained a 2.6-kilobase EcoRI-XbaI fragment encoding nisin resistance.
The 131.1-kilobase (kb) bacteriocin production (Bac) plasmid pNP2 and the 63.6-kb lactose metabolism (Lac) plasmid pCS26, from Streptococcus lactis subsp. diacetylactis WM4, as well as pWN8, a 116.7-kb recombinant plasmid from a Lac+ transconjugant, were analyzed with restriction enzymes to determine the origin of pWN8. Plasmid pWN8 conferred a Lac+ Bac- phenotype, contained DNA derived from pCS26 and pNP2, and, like pNP2, exhibited self-transmissibility (Tra+). In cloning attempts, Bac+ transformant S. lactis KSH1 was isolated. The recombinant plasmid, pKSH1, contained three BclI fragments from pNP2. Bac- transformants which individually contained each of the three fragments were also identified. Comparison of restriction maps of pKSH1 and pNP2 revealed an 18.4-kb region common to both plasmids, involving two of the three BclI fragments. S. lactis KSH1 also exhibited greater inhibitory activity against the indicator strain S. diacetylactis 18-16 than did a strain containing the 131.1-kb Bac plasmid.
The beta-D-galactosidase (beta-gal) gene from Streptococcus thermophilus was cloned to isolate and characterize it for potential use as a selection marker in a food-grade cloning vector. Chromosomal DNA from S. thermophilus 19258 was cleaved with the restriction enzyme PstI and ligated to pBR322 for transformation into Escherichia coli JM108. A beta-galactosidase-positive clone was detected by its blue color on a medium supplemented with 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-beta-D-galactoside. This transformant possessed a single plasmid, designated pRH116, which contained, in addition to the vector DNA, a 7.0-kilobase (kb) PstI insertion fragment coding for beta-gal activity. An extract from JM108(pRH116) contained a beta-gal protein with the same electrophoretic mobility as the beta-gal from S. thermophilus 19258. Compared with the beta-gal from E. coli HB101, the S. thermophilus beta-gal was of lower molecular weight. A restriction map of pRH116 was constructed from cleavage of both the plasmid and the purified insert. The construction of deletion derivatives of pRH116 with BglII, BstEII, and HindIII revealed the approximate location of the gene on the 7.0-kb fragment. The beta-gal gene was further localized to a 3.85-kb region.
We attempted to identify the genetic loci for sucrose-fermenting ability (Suc+), nisin-producing ability (Nip+), and nisin resistance (Nisr) in certain strains of Streptococcus lactis. To obtain genetic evidence linking the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr phenotype to a distinct plasmid, both conjugal transfer and transformation were attempted. A conjugation procedure modified to protect the recipients against the inhibitory action of nisin allowed the conjugal transfer of the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr marker from three Suc+ Nip+ Nisr donors to various recipients. The frequency of transfer ranged from 1.7 x 10(-4) to 5.6 x 10(-8) per input donor, depending on the mating pair. However, no additional plasmid DNA was apparent in these transconjugants. Transformation of S. lactis LM0230 to the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr phenotype by using the plasmid pool of S. lactis ATCC 11454 was not achieved, even though other plasmids present in the pool were successfully transferred. However, two results imply the involvement of plasmid DNA in coding for the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr phenotype. The Suc+ Nip+ Nisr marker was capable of conjugal transfer to a recipient deficient in host-mediated homologous recombination (Rec-), and the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr marker exhibited bilateral plasmid incompatibility with a number of lactose plasmids found in S. lactis. Although our results indicate that the Suc+ Nip+ Nisr phenotype is plasmid encoded, no physical evidence linking this phenotype to a distinct plasmid was obtained.