Streptococcus pneumoniae detects and responds to foreign bacterial peptide fragments in its environment

Hathaway, Lucy J.; Bättig, Patrick; Reber, Sandra; Rotzetter, Jeannine Ursula; Aebi, Susanne; Hauser, Christoph; Heller, Manfred; Kadioglu, Aras; Mühlemann, Kathrin (2014). Streptococcus pneumoniae detects and responds to foreign bacterial peptide fragments in its environment. Open Biology, 4(130224), p. 130224. The Royal Society Publishing 10.1098/rsob.130224

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Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important cause of bacterial meningitis and pneumonia but usually colonizes the human nasopharynx harmlessly. As this niche is simultaneously populated by other bacterial species, we looked for a role and pathway of communication between pneumococci and other species. This paper shows that two proteins of non-encapsulated S. pneumoniae, AliB-like ORF 1 and ORF 2, bind specifically to peptides matching other species resulting in changes in the pneumococci. AliB-like ORF 1 binds specifically peptide SETTFGRDFN, matching 50S ribosomal subunit protein L4 of Enterobacteriaceae, and facilitates upregulation of competence for genetic transformation. AliB-like ORF 2 binds specifically peptides containing sequence FPPQS, matching proteins of Prevotella species common in healthy human nasopharyngeal microbiota. We found that AliB-like ORF 2 mediates the early phase of nasopharyngeal colonization in vivo. The ability of S. pneumoniae to bind and respond to peptides of other bacterial species occupying the same host niche may play a key role in adaptation to its environment and in interspecies communication. These findings reveal a completely new concept of pneumococcal interspecies communication which may have implications for communication between other bacterial species and for future interventional therapeutics.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > DCR Services > Core Facility Massenspektrometrie- und Proteomics-Labor
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Infectiology

UniBE Contributor:

Hathaway, Lucy Jane, Bättig, Patrick, Reber, Sandra, Rotzetter, Jeannine Ursula, Aebi, Susanne, Hauser, Christoph Victor, Heller, Manfred, Mühlemann, Kathrin


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




The Royal Society Publishing




Annelies Luginbühl

Date Deposited:

06 Oct 2014 13:34

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:24

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Streptococcus pneumoniae, bacteria, interspecies communication, non-encapsulated, peptide




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