The regulatory system controlling pheromone-induced plasmid transfer in Enterococcus faecalis is the most thoroughly studied genetic system of this species. Transcription initiation from the target promoter is controlled by a pheromone receptor/repressor protein whose activity is determined by its interaction with two peptide signaling molecules that compete for the same binding site, but have opposing effects on the activity of the receptor protein. For the system to function as a sensitive and robust biological switch, several additional levels of post-transcriptional regulation are also required. Expression of important functions encoded within the enterococcal core genome may also be controlled by multilayered regulatory circuitry. The pheromone system may serve as a useful paradigm to guide comprehensive functional genomic analysis of E. faecalis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Tim Leonard for help with figures, and our many collaborators for their vital contributions. Our research is supported by grants GM49530 and AI58134 from the National Institutes of Health . CMJ is a recipient of a Dissertation fellowship from the University of Minnesota Graduate School.