Peptide signaling in Staphylococcus aureus and other Gram-positive bacteria

Peptides. 2004 Sep;25(9):1389-403. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2003.11.026.


There are two basic types of bacterial communication systems--those in which the signal is directed solely at other organisms and those in which the signal is sensed by the producing organism as well. The former are involved primarily in conjugation; the latter in adaptation to the environment. Gram-positive bacteria use small peptides for both types of signaling, whereas Gram-negative bacteria use homoserine lactones. Since adaptation signals are autoinducers the response is population-density-dependent and has been referred to as "quorum-sensing". Gram-negative bacteria internalize the signals which act upon an intracellular receptor, whereas Gram-positive bacteria use them as ligands for the extracellular receptor of a two-component signaling module. In both cases, the signal activates a complex adaptation response involving many genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Bacteriocins / chemistry
  • Cell Communication
  • Histidine Kinase
  • Ligands
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Chemical
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Trans-Activators / physiology


  • Agr protein, Staphylococcus aureus
  • AgrB protein, Staphylococcus aureus
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacteriocins
  • Ligands
  • Peptides
  • Trans-Activators
  • Protein Kinases
  • Histidine Kinase