Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 11591677
J. Bacteriol. 2001 Nov;183(21):6324-34
The dlt operon of gram-positive bacteria comprises four genes (dltA, dltB, dltC, and dltD) that catalyze the incorporation of D-alanine residues into the lipoteichoic acids (LTAs). In this work, we characterized the dlt operon of Streptococcus agalactiae, which, in addition to the dltA to dltD genes, included two regulatory genes, designated dltR and dltS, located upstream of dltA. The dltR gene encodes a 224-amino-acid putative response regulator belonging to the OmpR family of regulatory proteins. The dltS gene codes for a 395-amino-acid putative histidine kinase thought to be involved in the sensing of environmental signals. The dlt operon of S. agalactiae is mainly transcribed from the P(dltR) promoter, which directs synthesis of a 6.5-kb transcript encompassing dltR, dltS, dltA, dltB, dltC, and dltD, and from a weaker promoter, P(dltA), which is located in the 3′ extremity of dltS. We demonstrate that P(dltR), but not P(dlA), is activated by DltR in the presence of DltS in D-Ala-deficient LTA mutants resulting from insertional inactivation of the dltA gene, which encodes the cytoplasmic D-alanine-D-alanyl carrier ligase DltA. Expression of the dlt operon does not require DltR and DltS, since the basal activity of P(dltR) is high, being 20-fold that of the constitutive promoter P(aphA-3) which directs synthesis of the kanamycin resistance gene aphA-3 in various gram-positive bacteria. We hypothesize that the role of DltR and DltS in the control of expression of the dlt operon is to maintain the level of D-Ala esters in LTAs at a constant and appropriate value whatever the environmental conditions. The DltA(-) mutant displayed the ability to form clumps in standing culture and exhibited an increased susceptibility to the cationic antimicrobial polypeptide colistin.