The Listeria monocytogenes LiaSR two-component system (2CS) encoded by lmo1021 and lmo1022 plays an important role in resistance to the food preservative nisin. A nonpolar deletion in the histidine kinase-encoding component (ΔliaS) resulted in a 4-fold increase in nisin resistance. In contrast, the ΔliaS strain exhibited increased sensitivity to a number of cephalosporin antibiotics (and was also altered with respect to its response to a variety of other antimicrobials, including the active agents of a number of disinfectants). This pattern of increased nisin resistance and reduced cephalosporin resistance in L. monocytogenes has previously been associated with mutation of a second histidine kinase, LisK, which is a predicted regulator of liaS and a penicillin binding protein encoded by lmo2229. We noted that lmo2229 transcription is increased in the ΔliaS mutant and in a ΔliaS ΔlisK double mutant and that disruption of lmo2229 in the ΔliaS ΔlisK mutant resulted in a dramatic sensitization to nisin but had a relatively minor impact on cephalosporin resistance. We anticipate that further efforts to unravel the complex mechanisms by which LiaSR impacts on the antimicrobial resistance of L. monocytogenes could facilitate the development of strategies to increase the susceptibility of the pathogen to these agents.
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