• Bacteriocin Gene-Trait matching across the complete Lactobacillus Pan-genome.

      Collins, Fergus W. J.; O'Connor, Paula M.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Gómez-Sala, Beatriz; Rea, Mary; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/227; 13/SIRG/2160 (Nature, 2017-06-14)
      Lactobacilli constitute a large genus of Gram-positive lactic acid bacteria which have widespread roles ranging from gut commensals to starters in fermented foods. A combination of in silico and laboratory-based screening allowed us to determine the overall bacteriocin producing potential of representative strains of each species of the genus. The genomes of 175 lactobacilli and 38 associated species were screened for the presence of antimicrobial producing genes and combined with screening for antimicrobial activity against a range of indicators. There also appears to be a link between the strains’ environment and bacteriocin production, with those from the animal and human microbiota encoding over twice as many bacteriocins as those from other sources. Five novel bacteriocins were identified belonging to differing bacteriocin classes, including two-peptide bacteriocins (muricidin and acidocin X) and circular bacteriocins (paracyclicin). In addition, there was a clear clustering of helveticin type bacteriolysins in the Lactobacillus acidophilus group of species. This combined in silico and in vitro approach to screening has demonstrated the true diversity and complexity of bacteriocins across the genus. It also highlights their biological importance in terms of communication and competition between closely related strains in diverse complex microbial environments.
    • Reincarnation of Bacteriocins From the Lactobacillus Pangenomic Graveyard

      Collins, Fergus W. J.; Mesa-Pereira, Beatriz; O'Connor, Paula M.; Rea, Mary; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/227 (Frontiers, 02/07/2018)
      Bacteria commonly produce narrow spectrum bacteriocins as a means of inhibiting closely related species competing for similar resources in an environment. The increasing availability of genomic data means that it is becoming easier to identify bacteriocins encoded within genomes. Often, however, the presence of bacteriocin genes in a strain does not always translate into biological antimicrobial activity. For example, when analysing the Lactobacillus pangenome we identified strains encoding ten pediocin-like bacteriocin structural genes which failed to display inhibitory activity. Nine of these bacteriocins were novel whilst one was identified as the previously characterized bacteriocin “penocin A.” The composition of these bacteriocin operons varied between strains, often with key components missing which are required for bacteriocin production, such as dedicated bacteriocin transporters and accessory proteins. In an effort to functionally express these bacteriocins, the structural genes for the ten pediocin homologs were cloned alongside the dedicated pediocin PA-1 transporter in both Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus paracasei heterologous hosts. Each bacteriocin was cloned with its native leader sequence and as a fusion protein with the pediocin PA-1 leader sequence. Several of these bacteriocins displayed a broader spectrum of inhibition than the original pediocin PA-1. We show how potentially valuable bacteriocins can easily be “reincarnated” from in silico data and produced in vitro despite often lacking the necessary accompanying machinery. Moreover, the study demonstrates how genomic datasets such as the Lactobacilus pangenome harbor a potential “arsenal” of antimicrobial activity with the possibility of being activated when expressed in more genetically amenable hosts.
    • Reincarnation of Bacteriocins From the Lactobacillus Pangenomic Graveyard

      Collins, Fergus W. J.; Mesa-Pereira, Beatriz; O'Connor, Paula M.; Rea, Mary; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/227 (Frontiers, 2018-07-02)
      Bacteria commonly produce narrow spectrum bacteriocins as a means of inhibiting closely related species competing for similar resources in an environment. The increasing availability of genomic data means that it is becoming easier to identify bacteriocins encoded within genomes. Often, however, the presence of bacteriocin genes in a strain does not always translate into biological antimicrobial activity. For example, when analysing the Lactobacillus pangenome we identified strains encoding ten pediocin-like bacteriocin structural genes which failed to display inhibitory activity. Nine of these bacteriocins were novel whilst one was identified as the previously characterized bacteriocin “penocin A.” The composition of these bacteriocin operons varied between strains, often with key components missing which are required for bacteriocin production, such as dedicated bacteriocin transporters and accessory proteins. In an effort to functionally express these bacteriocins, the structural genes for the ten pediocin homologs were cloned alongside the dedicated pediocin PA-1 transporter in both Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus paracasei heterologous hosts. Each bacteriocin was cloned with its native leader sequence and as a fusion protein with the pediocin PA-1 leader sequence. Several of these bacteriocins displayed a broader spectrum of inhibition than the original pediocin PA-1. We show how potentially valuable bacteriocins can easily be “reincarnated” from in silico data and produced in vitro despite often lacking the necessary accompanying machinery. Moreover, the study demonstrates how genomic datasets such as the Lactobacilus pangenome harbor a potential “arsenal” of antimicrobial activity with the possibility of being activated when expressed in more genetically amenable hosts.