The par locus of the Enterococcus faecalis plasmid pAD1 is an RNA-regulated addiction module encoding the peptide toxin Fst. Homology searches revealed that Fst belongs to a family of at least nine related peptides encoded on the chromosomes and plasmids of six different Gram-positive bacterial species. Comparison of an alignment of these peptides with the results of a saturation mutagenesis analysis indicated regions of the peptides important for biological function. Examination of the genetic context of the fst genes revealed that all of these peptides are encoded within par-like loci with conserved features similar to pAD1 par. All four Ent. faecalis family members were demonstrated to produce the expected toxin-encoding and regulatory RNA products. The locus from the Ent. faecalis plasmid pAMS1 was demonstrated to function as an addiction module and Fst was shown to be toxic to Staphylococcus aureus, suggesting that a plasmid-encoded module in that species is performing the same function. Thus, the pAD1-encoded par locus appears to be the prototype of a family of related loci found in several Gram-positive species.
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