Circuitry Rewiring Directly Couples Competence to Predation in the Gut Dweller Streptococcus salivarius

Johann Mignolet*, Laetitia Fontaine, Andrea Sass, Catherine Nannan, Jacques Mahillon, Tom Coenye, Pascal Hols

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Small distortions in transcriptional networks might lead to drastic phenotypical changes, especially in cellular developmental programs such as competence for natural transformation. Here, we report a pervasive circuitry rewiring for competence and predation interplay in commensal streptococci. Canonically, in streptococci paradigms such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus mutans, the pheromone-based two-component system BlpRH is a central node that orchestrates the production of antimicrobial compounds (bacteriocins) and incorporates signal from the competence activation cascade. However, the human commensal Streptococcus salivarius does not contain a functional BlpRH pair, while the competence signaling system ComRS directly couples bacteriocin production and competence commitment. This network shortcut might underlie an optimal adaptation against microbial competitors and explain the high prevalence of S. salivarius in the human digestive tract. Moreover, the broad spectrum of bacteriocin activity against pathogenic bacteria showcases the commensal and genetically tractable S. salivarius species as a user-friendly model for competence and bacterial predation. Mignolet et al. performed RNA-seq, genetics, and physiological tests in Streptococcus salivarius to demonstrate an extensive circuitry reorganization in the bacteriocin (small antibacterial peptide) control. They show that the pheromone-activated ComR directly promotes the synthesis of ComX (master competence regulator) and potent bacteriocins active against a wide spectrum of bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1627-1638
Number of pages12
JournalCell Reports
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • RNPP
  • Rgg
  • bacteriocin production
  • cell-cell communication
  • competence
  • streptococcus
  • transcriptional network


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