Current Microbiology

, Volume 53, Issue 5, pp 365–369 | Cite as

The Effect of Calcium and Magnesium on the Activity of Bovicin HC5 and Nisin

  • Adam J. Houlihan
  • James B. RussellEmail author


Some Gram-positive bacteria produce small peptides (bacteriocins) that have antimicrobial activity, but many bacteria can become bacteriocin resistant. Bovicin HC5, a lantibiotic produced by Streptococcus bovis HC5, has the ability to inhibit nisin-resistant bacteria. Because nisin resistance has in many cases been correlated with an alteration of lipoteichoic acids or the polar head groups of membrane phospholipids, we decided to examine the effect of divalent cations on nisin and bovicin HC5 activity. Both bacteriocins catalyzed potassium efflux from S. bovis JB1, a non–bacteriocin-producing strain. The addition of large amounts (100 mM) of calcium or magnesium increased the ability of S. bovis JB1 to bind Congo red (an anionic dye) and counteracted bacteriocin-mediated potassium loss. Calcium was more effective than magnesium in decreasing nisin activity, but the reverse was observed with bovicin HC5. Nisin-resistant S. bovis JB1 cells bound three times as much Congo red as nisin-sensitive cells, and this result is consistent with the idea that changes in cell surface charge can be a mechanism of bacteriocin resistance. The nisin-resistant cells were less susceptible to bovicin HC5, but bovicin HC5 still caused a 50% depletion of intracellular potassium. These results indicate that nisin and bovicin HC5 react differently with the cell surfaces of Gram-positive bacteria.


Monensin Polar Head Group Lipoteichoic Acid Bacteriocin Activity Intracellular Potassium 
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This research was supported by the United States Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, WI.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Agricultural Research ServiceUnited States Department of AgricultureIthacaUSA

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