Quorum sensing control of lantibiotic production; nisin and subtilin autoregulate their own biosynthesis

Peptides. 2004 Sep;25(9):1405-14. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2003.10.021.


Lantibiotics are produced by a variety of Gram-positive bacteria. The production of these peptides appears to be regulated at the transcriptional level in a cell-density-dependent manner in various bacteria. This phenomenon has been studied in detail for the production of nisin by Lactococcus lactis, and the production of the structurally similar subtilin by Bacillus subtilis. In this paper, the molecular mechanism underlying regulation of nisin and subtilin production is reviewed. This quorum sensing, autoregulatory module includes the lantibiotics themselves as peptide pheromones, the signal transduction by the corresponding two-component regulatory systems, and the lantibiotic-responsive promoter elements in the biosynthesis gene clusters. Finally, the exploitation of these regulatory characteristics for the development of highly effective controlled gene expression systems in Gram-positive bacteria is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacteriocins
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Nisin / biosynthesis*
  • Nisin / genetics*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacteriocins
  • Peptides
  • Nisin
  • subtilin