Purification and amino acid sequencing of plantaricin A, a bacteriocin from Lactobacillus plantarum C11, revealed that maximum bacteriocin activity is associated with the complementary action of two almost-identical peptides, alpha and beta (J. Nissen-Meyer, A. G. Larsen, K. Sletten, M. Daeschel, and I. F. Nes, J. Gen. Microbiol. 139:1973-1978, 1993). A 5-kb chromosomal HindIII restriction fragment containing the structural gene of plantaricin A was cloned and sequenced. Only one gene encoding plantaricin A was found. The gene, termed plnA, encodes a 48-amino-acid precursor peptide, of which the 22 and 23 C-terminal amino acids correspond to the purified peptides. Northern (RNA) blot analysis demonstrated that a probe complementary to the coding strand of the plantaricin A gene hybridized to a 3.3-kb mRNA transcript. Further analysis of the 3.3-kb transcript demonstrated that it contains three additional open reading frames (plnB, plnC and plnD) downstream of plnA. The DNA sequences of plnB, plnC, and plnD revealed that their products closely resemble members of bacterial two-component signal transduction systems. The strongest homology was found to the accessory gene regulatory (agr) system, which controls expression of exoproteins during post-exponential growth in Staphylococcus aureus. The finding that plnABCD are transcribed from a common promoter suggests that the biological role played by the bacteriocin is somehow related to the regulatory function of the two-component system located on the same operon.