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author:("Shi, wenchuan")
1.  Coordinated bacteriocin production and competence development: a possible mechanism for taking up DNA from neighbouring species 
Molecular microbiology  2005;57(2):392-404.
It is important to ensure DNA availability when bacterial cells develop competence. Previous studies in Streptococcus pneumoniae demonstrated that the competence-stimulating peptide (CSP) induced autolysin production and cell lysis of its own non-competent cells, suggesting a possible active mechanism to secure a homologous DNA pool for uptake and recombination. In this study, we found that in Streptococcus mutans CSP induced coordinated expression of competence and mutacin production genes. This mutacin (mutacin IV) is a non-lantibiotic bacteriocin which kills closely related Streptococcal species such as S. gordonii. In mixed cultures of S. mutans and S. gordonii harbouring a shuttle plasmid, plasmid DNA transfer from S. gordonii to S. mutans was observed in a CSP and mutacin IV-dependent manner. Further analysis demonstrated an increased DNA release from S. gordonii upon addition of the partially purified mutacin IV extract. On the basis of these findings, we propose that Streptococcus mutans, which resides in a multispecies oral bio-film, may utilize the competence-induced bacteriocin production to acquire transforming DNA from other species living in the same ecological niche. This hypothesis is also consistent with a well-known phenomenon that a large genomic diversity exists among different S. mutans strains. This diversity may have resulted from extensive horizontal gene transfer.
PMCID: PMC1262684  PMID: 15978073
2.  Competition and Coexistence between Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sanguinis in the Dental Biofilm 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(21):7193-7203.
The human mucosal surface is colonized by the indigenous microflora, which normally maintains an ecological balance among different species. Certain environmental or biological factors, however, may trigger disruption of this balance, leading to microbial diseases. In this study, we used two oral bacterial species, Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sanguinis (formerly S. sanguis), as a model to probe the possible mechanisms of competition/coexistence between different species which occupy the same ecological niche. We show that the two species engage in a multitude of antagonistic interactions temporally and spatially; occupation of a niche by one species precludes colonization by the other, while simultaneous colonization by both species results in coexistence. Environmental conditions, such as cell density, nutritional availability, and pH, play important roles in determining the outcome of these interactions. Genetic and biochemical analyses reveal that these interspecies interactions are possibly mediated through a well-regulated production of chemicals, such as bacteriocins (produced by S. mutans) and hydrogen peroxide (produced by S. sanguinis). Consistent with the phenotypic characteristics, production of bacteriocins and H2O2 are regulated by environmental conditions, as well as by juxtaposition of the two species. These sophisticated interspecies interactions could play an essential part in balancing competition/coexistence within multispecies microbial communities.
PMCID: PMC1272965  PMID: 16237003
4.  Divergent Regulatory Pathways Control A and S Motility in Myxococcus xanthus through FrzE, a CheA-CheY Fusion Protein†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(5):1716-1723.
Myxococcus xanthus moves on solid surfaces by using two gliding motility systems, A motility for individual-cell movement and S motility for coordinated group movements. The frz genes encode chemotaxis homologues that control the cellular reversal frequency of both motility systems. One of the components of the core Frz signal transduction pathway, FrzE, is homologous to both CheA and CheY from the enteric bacteria and is therefore a novel CheA-CheY fusion protein. In this study, we investigated the role of this fusion protein, in particular, the CheY domain (FrzECheY). FrzECheY retains all of the highly conserved residues of the CheY superfamily of response regulators, including Asp709, analogous to phosphoaccepting Asp57 of Escherichia coli CheY. While in-frame deletion of the entire frzE gene caused both motility systems to show a hyporeversal phenotype, in-frame deletion of the FrzECheY domain resulted in divergent phenotypes for the two motility systems: hyperreversals of the A-motility system and hyporeversals of the S-motility system. To further investigate the role of FrzECheY in A and S motility, point mutations were constructed such that the putative phosphoaccepting residue, Asp709, was changed from D to A (and was therefore never subject to phosphorylation) or E (possibly mimicking constitutive phosphorylation). The D709A mutant showed hyperreversals for both motilities, while the D709E mutant showed hyperreversals for A motility and hyporeversal for S motility. These results show that the FrzECheY domain plays a critical signaling role in coordinating A and S motility. On the basis of the phenotypic analyses of the frzE mutants generated in this study, a model is proposed for the divergent signal transduction through FrzE in controlling and coordinating A and S motility in M. xanthus.
PMCID: PMC1064013  PMID: 15716443

Results 1-4 (4)