Differential fluorescence induction reveals Streptococcus pneumoniae loci regulated by competence stimulatory peptide

Mol Microbiol. 2001 Jan;39(1):126-35. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2001.02218.x.


Differential fluorescence induction (DFI) in Streptococcus pneumoniae was used as a method for the discovery of genes activated in specific growth environments. Competence stimulatory peptide (CSP) was used as the model inducing system to identify differentially expressed genes. To identify CSP-induced promoters, a plasmid library was constructed by inserting random pieces of S. pneumoniae chromosomal DNA upstream of the promoterless gfpmut2 gene in an Escherichia coli/S. pneumoniae shuttle vector. S. pneumoniae carrying the library were induced with CSP and enriched for green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing bacteria using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. A total of 886 fluorescent clones was screened, and 12 differentially activated promoter elements were identified. Sequence analysis of these clones revealed that three were associated with novel competence loci, one of which we show is essential for DNA uptake, and six are known CSP-inducible promoters. We also explored whether competence proteins have a role in virulence and found that mutations in three CSP-inducible genes resulted in attenuated virulence phenotypes in either of two murine infection models. These results demonstrate the utility of DFI as a method for identifying differentially expressed genes in S. pneumoniae and the potential utility of applying DFI to other Gram-positive bacteria.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Gene Library
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Respiratory Tract Infections
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / pathogenicity
  • Transformation, Bacterial / genetics*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • ComA protein, Bacteria
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins