Postprint version. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America, Volume 102, Issue 11, March 15, 2005, pages 3906-3912.
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM is a probiotic bacterium that has been produced commercially since 1972. The complete genome is 1,993,564 nt and devoid of plasmids. The average GC content is 34.71% with 1,864 predicted ORFs, of which 72.5% were functionally classified. Nine phage-related integrases were predicted, but no complete prophages were found. However, three unique regions designated as potential autonomous units (PAUs) were identified. These units resemble a unique structure and bear characteristics of both plasmids and phages. Analysis of the three PAUs revealed the presence of two R/M systems and a prophage maintenance system killer protein. A spacers interspersed direct repeat locus containing 32 nearly perfect 29-bp repeats was discovered and may provide a unique molecular signature for this organism. In silico analyses predicted 17 transposase genes and a chromosomal locus for lactacin B, a class II bacteriocin. Several mucus- and fibronectin-binding proteins, implicated in adhesion to human intestinal cells, were also identified. Gene clusters for transport of a diverse group of carbohydrates, including fructooligosaccharides and raffinose, were present and often accompanied by transcriptional regulators of the lacI family. For protein degradation and peptide utilization, the organism encoded 20 putative peptidases, homologs for PrtP and PrtM, and two complete oligopeptide transport systems. Nine two-component regulatory systems were predicted, some associated with determinants implicated in bacteriocin production and acid tolerance. Collectively, these features within the genome sequence of L. acidophilus are likely to contribute to the organisms' gastric survival and promote interactions with the intestinal mucosa and microbiota.