Enterocin A is a small, heat-stable, antilisterial bacteriocin produced by Enterococcus faecium DPC1146. The sequence of a 10, 879-bp chromosomal region containing at least 12 open reading frames (ORFs), 7 of which are predicted to play a role in enterocin biosynthesis, is presented. The genes entA, entI, and entF encode the enterocin A prepeptide, the putative immunity protein, and the induction factor prepeptide, respectively. The deduced proteins EntK and EntR resemble the histidine kinase and response regulator proteins of two-component signal transducing systems of the AgrC-AgrA type. The predicted proteins EntT and EntD are homologous to ABC (ATP-binding cassette) transporters and accessory factors, respectively, of several other bacteriocin systems and to proteins implicated in the signal-sequence-independent export of Escherichia coli hemolysin A. Immediately downstream of the entT and entD genes are two ORFs, the product of one of which, ORF4, is very similar to the product of the yteI gene of Bacillus subtilis and to E. coli protease IV, a signal peptide peptidase known to be involved in outer membrane lipoprotein export. Another potential bacteriocin is encoded in the opposite direction to the other genes in the enterocin cluster. This putative bacteriocin-like peptide is similar to LafX, one of the components of the lactacin F complex. A deletion which included one of two direct repeats upstream of the entA gene abolished enterocin A activity, immunity, and ability to induce bacteriocin production. Transposon insertion upstream of the entF gene also had the same effect, but this mutant could be complemented by exogenously supplied induction factor. The putative EntI peptide was shown to be involved in the immunity to enterocin A. Cloning of a 10.5-kb amplicon comprising all predicted ORFs and regulatory regions resulted in heterologous production of enterocin A and induction factor in Enterococcus faecalis, while a four-gene construct (entAITD) under the control of a constitutive promoter resulted in heterologous enterocin A production in both E. faecalis and Lactococcus lactis.
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