Exopolysaccharide synthesis, biofilm formation, and competence are important physiologic functions and virulence factors for Streptococcus mutans. In this study, we report the role of Frp, a transcriptional regulator, on the regulation of these traits crucial to pathogenesis. An Frp-deficient mutant showed decreased transcription of several genes important in virulence, including those encoding fructosyltransferase (Ftf), glucosyltransferase B (GtfB), and GtfC, by reverse transcription and quantitative real-time PCR. Expression of Ftf was decreased in the frp mutant, as assessed by Western blotting as well as by the activity assays. Frp deficiency also inhibited the production of GtfB in the presence of glucose and sucrose as well as the production of GtfC in the presence of glucose. As a consequence of the effects on GtfB and -C, sucrose-induced biofilm formation was decreased in the frp mutant. The expression of competence mediated by the competence-signaling peptide (CSP) system, as assessed by comC gene transcription, was attenuated in the frp mutant. As a result, the transformation efficiency was decreased in the frp mutant but was partially restored by adding synthetic CSP. Transcription of the frp gene was significantly increased in the frp mutant under all conditions tested, indicating that frp transcription is autoregulated. Furthermore, complementation of the frp gene in the frp mutant restored transcription of the affected genes to levels similar to those in the wild-type strain. These results suggest that Frp is a novel pleiotropic effector of multiple cellular functions and is involved in the modulation of exopolysaccharide synthesis, sucrose-dependent biofilm formation, and competence development.
Streptococcus mutans is the main pathogenic agent of dental caries. Glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) produced by these bacteria are important virulence factors because they catalyze the extracellular synthesis of glucans that are necessary for bacterial accumulation in the dental biofilm. The diversity of GtfB and GtfC isozymes was analyzed in 44 genotypes of S. mutans that showed a range of abilities to form biofilms in vitro. Several approaches were used to characterize these isozymes, including restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the gtfB and gtfC genes, zymographic analysis of the identified GtfB and GtfC genotypes, and quantitation of isozyme production in immunoblot experiments with specific monoclonal antibodies. A high diversity of gtf genes, patterns of enzymatic activity, and isozyme production was identified among the isolates tested. GtfC and, to a lesser extent, GtfB were produced in significantly higher amounts by strains that had high biofilm-forming ability than by strains with low biofilm-forming ability. Biofilm formation was independent of the GtfB and GtfC genotype. Atypical strains that showed an apparent single Gtf isozyme of intermediate size between GtfB and GtfC were also identified. The results indicate that various expression levels of GtfB and GtfC isozymes are associated with the ability of distinct S. mutans genotypes to grow as biofilms, strengthening the results of previous genetic and biochemical studies performed with laboratory strains. These studies also emphasize the need to identify factors that control gtf gene expression.
The association of specific bioactive flavonoids and terpenoids with fluoride can modulate the development of cariogenic biofilms by simultaneously affecting the synthesis of exopolysaccharides (EPS) and acid production by Streptococcus mutans, which enhanced the cariostatic effectiveness of fluoride in vivo. In the present study, we further investigated whether the biological actions of combinations of myricetin (flavonoid), tt-farnesol (terpenoid) and fluoride can influence the expression of specific genes of S. mutans within biofilms and their structural organization using real-time PCR and confocal fluorescence microscopy.
Twice-daily treatment (one-minute exposure) during biofilm formation affected the gene expression by S. mutans both at early (49-h) and later (97-h) stages of biofilm development. Biofilms treated with combination of agents displayed lower mRNA levels for gtfB and gtfD (associated with exopolysaccharides synthesis) and aguD (associated with S. mutans acid tolerance) than those treated with vehicle-control (p < 0.05). Furthermore, treatment with combination of agents markedly affected the structure-architecture of S. mutans biofilms by reducing the biovolume (biomass) and proportions of both EPS and bacterial cells across the biofilm depth, especially in the middle and outer layers (vs. vehicle-control, p < 0.05). The biofilms treated with combination of agents were also less acidogenic, and had reduced amounts of extracellular insoluble glucans and intracellular polysaccharides than vehicle-treated biofilms (p < 0.05).
The data show that the combination of naturally-occurring agents with fluoride effectively disrupted the expression of specific virulence genes, structural organization and accumulation of S. mutans biofilms, which may explain the enhanced cariostatic effect of our chemotherapeutic approach.
Studies were initiated to investigate the regulation of Streptococcus mutans genes which are believed to be important to virulence. Operon fusions were constructed between S. mutans gene regulatory regions and a promoterless chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene (cat) found on the plasmid pMH109. Specifically, fusions were generated between cat and the S. mutans genes encoding fructosyltransferase (ftf) and the glucosyltransferase B/C (gtfB/C) operon. Constructs were confirmed by restriction enzyme analysis, and the fusions were subcloned into the integration vehicle pVA891. Following generation of multimeric DNA, recombinant plasmids were introduced into the s. mutans genome by Campbell-type insertion, resulting in single-copy operon fusions. Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase specific activities were used to monitor the expression of the S. mutans gtfB/C operon and ftf determinants. The expression of these genes is increased by the presence of sucrose and is followed by a rapid decline in expression over time. Additionally, expression of the gtfB/C operon is increased in S. mutans cells bound to artificial tooth pellicles.
Streptococcus mutans is a key contributor to the formation of the extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) matrix in dental biofilms. The exopolysaccharides, which are mostly glucans synthesized by streptococcal glucosyltransferases (Gtfs), provide binding sites that promote accumulation of microorganisms on the tooth surface and further establishment of pathogenic biofilms. This study explored (i) the role of S. mutans Gtfs in the development of the EPS matrix and microcolonies in biofilms, (ii) the influence of exopolysaccharides on formation of microcolonies, and (iii) establishment of S. mutans in a multispecies biofilm in vitro using a novel fluorescence labeling technique. Our data show that the ability of S. mutans strains defective in the gtfB gene or the gtfB and gtfC genes to form microcolonies on saliva-coated hydroxyapatite surfaces was markedly disrupted. However, deletion of both gtfB (associated with insoluble glucan synthesis) and gtfC (associated with insoluble and soluble glucan synthesis) is required for the maximum reduction in EPS matrix and biofilm formation. S. mutans grown with sucrose in the presence of Streptococcus oralis and Actinomyces naeslundii steadily formed exopolysaccharides, which allowed the initial clustering of bacterial cells and further development into highly structured microcolonies. Concomitantly, S. mutans became the major species in the mature biofilm. Neither the EPS matrix nor microcolonies were formed in the presence of glucose in the multispecies biofilm. Our data show that GtfB and GtfC are essential for establishment of the EPS matrix, but GtfB appears to be responsible for formation of microcolonies by S. mutans; these Gtf-mediated processes may enhance the competitiveness of S. mutans in the multispecies environment in biofilms on tooth surfaces.
Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), harboring biofilm formation, considered as a main aetiological factor of dental caries. Gtf genes play an important role in S. mutans biofilm formation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus–derived biosurfactant on S. mutans biofilm formation and gtfB/C expression level (S. mutans standard strain ATCC35668 and isolated S. mutans strain (22) from dental plaque).
The Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus) DSM 20079 was selected as a probiotic strain to produce biosurfactant. The FTIR analysis of its biosurfactant showed that it appears to have a protein-like component. Due to the release of such biosurfactants, L. acidophilus was able to interfere in the adhesion and biofilm formation of the S. mutans to glass slide. It also could make streptococcal chains shorter. Using realtime RT-PCR quantitation method made it clear that gtfB and gtfC gene expression were decreased in the presence of L. acidophilus–derived biosurfactant fraction.
Several properties of S. mutans cells (the surface properties, biofilm formation, adhesion ability and gene expression) were changed after L. acidophilus- derived biosurfactant treatment. It is also concluded that biosurfacant treatment can provide an optional way to control biofilm development. On the basis of our findings, we can suggest that the prepared biosurfactant may interfere with adhesion processes of S. mutans to teeth surfaces, provided additional evaluation produce satisfactory results.
Biofilm formation; biosurfactant; gtfB/C; Lactobacillus acidophilus; real-time RT PCR; Streptococcus mutans
The Streptococcus mutans atlA gene encodes an autolysin required for biofilm maturation and biogenesis of a normal cell surface. We found that the capacity to form biofilms by S. mutans, one of the principal causative agents of dental caries, was dramatically impaired by growth of the organism in an aerated environment and that cells exposed to oxygen displayed marked changes in surface protein profiles. Inactivation of the atlA gene alleviated repression of biofilm formation in the presence of oxygen. Also, the formation of long chains, a characteristic of AtlA-deficient strains, was less evident in cells grown with aeration. The SMu0629 gene is immediately upstream of atlA and encodes a product that contains a C-X-X-C motif, a characteristic of thiol-disulfide oxidoreductases. Inactivation of SMu0629 significantly reduced the levels of AtlA protein and led to resistance to autolysis. The SMu0629 mutant also displayed an enhanced capacity to form biofilms in the presence of oxygen compared to that of the parental strain. The expression of SMu0629 was shown to be under the control of the VicRK two-component system, which influences oxidative stress tolerance in S. mutans. Disruption of vicK also led to inhibition of processing of AtlA, and the mutant was hyperresistant to autolysis. When grown under aerobic conditions, the vicK mutant also showed significantly increased biofilm formation compared to strain UA159. This study illustrates the central role of AtlA and VicK in orchestrating growth on surfaces and envelope biogenesis in response to redox conditions.
Streptococcus mutans is implicated as a major etiological agent in human dental caries, and one of the important virulence properties of this organism is its ability to form biofilms (dental plaque) on tooth surfaces. We examined the role of autoinducer-2 (AI-2) on S. mutans biofilm formation by constructing a GS-5 luxS-null mutant. Biofilm formation by the luxS mutant in 0.5% sucrose defined medium was found to be markedly attenuated compared to the wild type. Scanning electron microscopy also revealed that biofilms of the luxS mutant formed larger clumps in sucrose medium compared to the parental strain. Therefore, the expression of glucosyltransferase genes was examined and the gtfB and gtfC genes, but not the gtfD gene, in the luxS mutant were upregulated in the mid-log growth phase. Furthermore, we developed a novel two-compartment system to monitor AI-2 production by oral streptococci and periodontopathic bacteria. The biofilm defect of the luxS mutant was complemented by strains of S. gordonii, S. sobrinus, and S. anginosus; however, it was not complemented by S. oralis, S. salivarius, or S. sanguinis. Biofilm formation by the luxS mutant was also complemented by Porphyromonas gingivalis 381 and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Y4 but not by a P. gingivalis luxS mutant. These results suggest that the regulation of the glucosyltransferase genes required for sucrose-dependent biofilm formation is regulated by AI-2. Furthermore, these results provide further confirmation of previous proposals that quorum sensing via AI-2 may play a significant role in oral biofilm formation.
Apigenin, a potent inhibitor of glucosyltransferase activity, affects the accumulation of Streptococcus mutans biofilms in vitro by reducing the formation of insoluble glucans and enhancing the soluble glucan content of the polysaccharide matrix. In the present study, we investigated the influence of apigenin on gtfB, gtfC, and gtfD expression in S. mutans UA159. Apigenin (0.1 mM) significantly decreased the expression of gtfB and gtfC mRNA (P < 0.05); in contrast, it increased the expression of gtfD in S. mutans growing in the planktonic state. The protein levels of GTF B, GTF C, and GTF D in culture supernatants were also affected; less GTF B and C were detected, whereas the level of GTF D was significantly elevated (P < 0.05). A similar profile of gtf expression was obtained with biofilms, although an elevated concentration (1 mM) of apigenin was required to elicit the effects. The influence of apigenin on gtf gene expression was independent of any effect on GTF activity, did not involve inhibition of growth or effects on pH, and was not affected by addition of sucrose. The data show that apigenin modulates the genetic expression of virulence factors in S. mutans.
The production of water-insoluble glucan (WIG) enables Streptococcus mutans to survive and persist in the oral niche. WIG is produced from sucrose by glucosyltransferase encoded tandemly by the highly homologous gtfB and gtfC genes. Conversely, a single hybrid gene from the endogenous recombination of gtfB and gtfC is easily generated using RecA, resulting in S. mutans UA159 WIG− (rate of ∼1.0 × 10−3). The pneumococcus recA gene is regulated as a late competence gene. comX gene mutations did not lead to the appearance of WIG− cells. The biofilm collected from the flow cell had more WIG− cells than among the planktonic cells. Among the planktonic cells, WIG− cells appeared after 16 h and increased ∼10-fold after 32 h of cultivation, suggesting an increase in planktonic WIG− cells after longer culture. The strain may be derived from the biofilm environment. In coculture with donor WIG+ and recipient WIG− cells, the recipient cells reverted to WIG+ and acquired an intact gtfBC region from the environment, indicating that the uptake of extracellular DNA resulted in the phenotypic change. Here we demonstrate that endogenous DNA rearrangement and uptake of extracellular DNA generate WIG− cells and that both are induced by the same signal transducer, the com system. Our findings may help in understanding how S. mutans can adapt to the oral environment and may explain the evolution of S. mutans.
Oxygen has a potent influence on the expression of genes and the activity of physiological and biochemical pathways in bacteria. We have found that oxygen significantly altered virulence-related phenotypic properties of Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiological agent of human dental caries. Transport of glucose, fructose, or mannose by the sugar:phosphotransferase system was significantly enhanced by growth under aerobic conditions, whereas aeration caused an extended lag phase and slower growth of S. mutans in medium containing glucose, fructose, or mannose as the carbohydrate source. Aeration resulted in a decrease in the glycolytic rate and enhanced the production of intracellular storage polysaccharides. Although aeration decreased the acid tolerance of S. mutans, aerobically grown cells had higher F-ATPase activity. Aeration altered biofilm architecture but did not change the ability of S. mutans to interact with salivary agglutinin. Growth in air resulted in enhanced cell-associated glucosyltransferase (Gtf) activity at the expense of cell-free Gtf activity. These results demonstrate that S. mutans can dramatically alter its pathogenic potential in response to exposure to oxygen, suggesting that the phenotype of the organism may be highly variable in the human oral cavity depending on the maturity of the dental plaque biofilm.
10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid is the most active and unique component to the royal jelly that has antimicrobial properties. Streptococcus mutans is associated with pathogenesis of oral cavity, gingivoperiodontal diseases and bacteremia following dental manipulations. In the oral cavity, S. mutans colonize the soft tissues including tongue, palate, and buccal mucosa. When considering the role of supragingival dental plaque in caries, the proportion of acid producing bacteria (particularly S. mutans), has direct relevance to the pathogenicity of the plaque. The genes that encode glucosyltransferases (gtfs) especially gtfB and gtfC are important in S. mutans colonization and pathogenesis. This study investigated the hydroxy-decenoic acid (HDA) effects on gtfB and gtfC expression and S. mutans adherence to cells surfaces.
Streptococcus mutans was treated by different concentrations of HPLC purified HDA supplied by Iran Beekeeping and Veterinary Association. Real time RT-PCR and western blot assays were conducted to evaluate gtfB and gtfC genes transcription and translation before and after HDA treatment. The bacterial attachment to the cell surfaces was evaluated microscopically.
500 μg ml-1 of HDA inhibited gtfB and gtfC mRNA transcription and its expression. The same concentration of HDA decreased 60% the adherence of S. mutans to the surface of P19 cells.
Hydroxy-decenoic acid prevents gtfB and gtfC expression efficiently in the bactericide sub-concentrations and it could effectively reduce S. mutans adherence to the cell surfaces. In the future, therapeutic approaches to affecting S. mutans could be selective and it’s not necessary to put down the oral flora completely.
Biofilm; Caries; Glucosyltransferase; Streptococcus
Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus mutans avidly colonize teeth. S. gordonii glucosyltransferase (GtfG) and amylase-binding proteins (AbpA/AbpB), and S. mutans glucosyltransferase (GtfB), affect their respective oral colonization abilities. We investigated their interrelationships and caries association in a rat model of human caries, examining the sequence of colonization and non- vs. high-sucrose diets, the latter being associated with aggressive decay in humans and rats. Virulence-characterized wild-types of both species and well-defined mutants of S. gordonii with interrupted abpA and gtfG genes were studied. While both S. gordonii and S. mutans were abundant colonizers of rat’s teeth in the presence of either diet, if inoculated singly, S. mutans always out-competed S. gordonii on the teeth, independent of diet, strain of S. mutans, simultaneous or sequential inoculation, or presence/absence of mutations of S. gordonii’s abpA and gtfG genes known to negatively or positively affect its colonization and to interact in vitro with S. mutans GtfB. S. mutans out-competed S. gordonii in in vivo plaque biofilm. Caries induction reflected S. mutans or S. gordonii colonization abundance: the former highly cariogenic, the latter not. S. gordonii does not appear to be a good candidate for replacement therapy. These results are consistent with human data.
dental plaque biofilm; bacterial interference; glucosyltransferase; amylase binding protein; sucrose; starch
Streptococcus mutans produces several enzymes which metabolize sucrose. Three glucosyltransferase genes (gtfB, gtfC, and gtfD) and a single fructosyltransferase gene (ftf) encode enzymes which are important in formation of exopolysaccharides. Mutants of S. mutans V403 carrying single and multiple mutations of the gtfB, gtfC, gtfD, and ftf genes recently have been constructed by allelic exchange in our laboratory. Using selected strains from this panel of mutants, we examined the importance of water-insoluble glucan, water-soluble glucan, and fructan production in cariogenicity while controlling for the effects of strain and species variability. Genetic and biochemical characterization of mutants and assays of glucosyltransferase and fructosyltransferase activities were performed to ensure that the phenotypes of strains coincided with deficiencies predicted by genotype. The young gnotobiotic rat model of cariogenicity was used to assess virulence of the wild-type strain and isogenic mutants. Mutant strains were less virulent than the wild type in almost every location examined for caries on tooth surfaces and level of involvement of lesions (depth and severity). Inactivation of either gtfB and gtfC or ftf dramatically reduced virulence; the subsequent inactivation of gtfD did not enhance the effect of reduced virulence.
Streptococcus mutans has been recognized as an important etiological agent in human dental caries. Some strains of S. mutans also produce bacteriocins. In this study, we sought to demonstrate that bacteriocin production by S. mutans strains GS5 and BM71 was mediated by quorum sensing, which is dependent on a competence-stimulating peptide (CSP) signaling system encoded by the com genes. We also demonstrated that interactions with some other oral streptococci interfered with S. mutans bacteriocin production both in broth and in biofilms. The inhibition of S. mutans bacteriocin production by oral bacteria was stronger in biofilms than in broth. Using transposon Tn916 mutagenesis, we identified a gene (sgc; named for Streptococcus gordonii challisin) responsible for the inhibition of S. mutans bacteriocin production by S. gordonii Challis. Interruption of the sgc gene in S. gordonii Challis resulted in attenuated inhibition of S. mutans bacteriocin production. The supernatant fluids from the sgc mutant did not inactivate the exogenous S. mutans CSP as did those from the parent strain Challis. S. gordonii Challis did not inactivate bacteriocin produced by S. mutans GS5. Because S. mutans uses quorum sensing to regulate virulence, strategies designed to interfere with these signaling systems may have broad applicability for biological control of this caries-causing organism.
The rml genes are involved in dTDP-rhamnose synthesis in Streptococcus mutans. A gene fusion between gtfB and gtfC, which both encode extracellular water-insoluble glucan-synthesizing enzymes, accompanied by inactivation of the rml genes was observed for cells grown in the presence of sucrose. The survival rates of rml mutants isolated in the absence of sucrose were drastically reduced in the presence of sucrose. The rates were consistent with the frequency of spontaneous gene fusions between gtfB and gtfC, suggesting that the spontaneous recombinant organisms were selected in the presence of sucrose. The rml mutants with a gtfB-gtfC fusion gene had markedly reduced water-insoluble glucan synthetic activity and lost the ability to colonize glass surfaces in the presence of sucrose. These results suggest that the rml mutants of S. mutans, which are defective in dTDP-rhamnose synthesis, can survive only in the absence of water-insoluble glucan synthesis.
The Streptococcus mutans serotype c gtfA gene encodes a 55-kilodalton protein which catalyzes the synthesis of a small glucan (1.5 kilodaltons) from sucrose (J.P. Robeson, R.G. Barletta, and R. Curtiss III, J. Bacteriol. 153:211-221, 1983). To investigate the role of the GtfA enzyme in virulence, we constructed S. mutans gtfA mutants from three cariogenic serotype c strains. A plasmid that carried an erythromycin resistance determinant and an internal fragment of the gtfA gene but that was unable to replicate in streptococci was used to transform S. mutans. The erythromycin-resistant transformants carried a partial duplication of the internal gtfA fragment, because of the integration of plasmid sequences within the S. mutans gtfA gene, which also resulted in the inactivation of the gtfA gene. This was verified by Southern DNA hybridization analysis and Western blot studies of cellular protein extracts of the mutant strains with GtfA antiserum. Mutants were fully virulent in both germfree and conventional rats. These results do not rule out the involvement of the GtfA protein in virulence. Pucci and Macrina (M.J. Pucci and F.L. Macrina, Infect. Immun. 54:77-84, 1986) have suggested that the GtfA enzyme synthesizes a primer for water-insoluble glucans. Another S. mutans protein, presumably a glucosyltransferase, may have a similar function and, thus, may obscure the relevance of the GtfA enzyme in pathogenesis.
Glucosyltransferase (GTF) enzymes of mutans streptococci are considered virulence factors due to their ability to synthesize adhesive glucans, which facilitate cell-to-cell adherence and accumulation. In this study we report the cloning, expression, and characterization of the catalytic (CAT) and glucan-binding (GLU) domains of S. mutans GTF-I encoded by gtfB. The CAT and GLU polypeptides represent amino acid residues 253 to 628 and 1183 to 1473, respectively, of S. mutans GTF-I. Antibodies to recombinant CAT and GLU were generated in rabbits and purified by affinity chromatography. Purified anti-CAT antibodies significantly inhibited water-insoluble glucan synthesis by S. mutans and S. sobrinus GTFs (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05, respectively). The purified anti-GLU antibodies significantly inhibited both water-insoluble and water-soluble glucan synthesis by S. mutans GTFs (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05, respectively). These results demonstrate that anti-CAT and anti-GLU antibodies are capable of inhibiting a variety of GTF activities. Since antibodies to S. mutans in saliva are implicated in protection against disease, we next assessed the ability of CAT and GLU polypeptides to induce mucosal antibody responses in mice. Intranasal (i.n.) immunization of mice with CAT showed significantly (P < 0.005) elevated levels of specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody activity in serum and specific IgA antibody activity in serum, saliva, vaginal washes, and fecal samples. GLU immunized animals showed significantly (P < 0.005) elevated levels of specific IgA antibody activity in serum and vaginal secretions. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the recombinant CAT and GLU polypeptides are effective in inducing both mucosal and systemic immune responses. The ability of these polypeptides to induce a mucosal IgA immune response in mice after i.n. immunization supports their use as subunit vaccine candidates in the development of an anticaries vaccine.
Glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) catalyze the synthesis of glucans from sucrose and are produced by several species of lactic-acid bacteria. The oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans produces large amounts of glucans through the action of three Gtfs. GtfD produces water-soluble glucan (WSG), GtfB synthesizes water-insoluble glucans (WIG) and GtfC produces mainly WIG but also WSG. These enzymes, especially those synthesizing WIG, are of particular interest because of their role in the formation of dental plaque, an environment where S. mutans can thrive and produce lactic acid, promoting the formation of dental caries. We sequenced the gtfB, gtfC and gtfD genes from several mutans streptococcal strains isolated from the oral cavity of humans and searched for their homologues in strains isolated from chimpanzees and macaque monkeys. The sequence data were analyzed in conjunction with the available Gtf sequences from other bacteria in the genera Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc to gain insights into the evolutionary history of this family of enzymes, with a particular emphasis on S. mutans Gtfs. Our analyses indicate that streptococcal Gtfs arose from a common ancestral progenitor gene, and that they expanded to form two clades according to the type of glucan they synthesize. We also show that the clade of streptococcal Gtfs synthesizing WIG appeared shortly after the divergence of viviparous, dentate mammals, which potentially contributed to the formation of dental plaque and the establishment of several streptococci in the oral cavity. The two S. mutans Gtfs capable of WIG synthesis, GtfB and GtfC, are likely the product of a gene duplication event. We dated this event to coincide with the divergence of the genomes of ancestral early primates. Thus, the acquisition and diversification of S. mutans Gtfs predates modern humans and is unrelated to the increase in dietary sucrose consumption.
Glucosyltranferases (Gtfs) produced by the mutans streptococci are recognized as virulence factors in dental caries, and the inhibition of Gtfs by secretory immunoglobulin A is predicted to provide protection against this disease. The basis of such mucosal immunity is linked to the ability to reliably stimulate production of secretory immunoglobulin A against Gtfs. In this regard, we are exploring the immunogenicities of various Gtf peptides genetically fused to the B subunit of cholera toxin (CTB), a known mucosal adjuvant. In this work, we have created a gene fusion linking the GtfB active-site (AS) peptide DANFDSIRVDAVDNVDADLLQIA to the amino terminus of CTB. This sequence, deduced from the nucleotide sequence of gtfB from Streptococcus mutans GS5, has been found to be strongly conserved in Gtfs from several mutans streptococci. We have purified this recombinant protein (AS:CTB) from Escherichia coli carrying the fusion gene under the control of the lactose operon promoter. This protein was immunogenic in rabbits and produced specific serum antibodies against both the Gtf peptide and the CTB moiety. The antiserum was tested for its ability to inhibit GtfB activity obtained from a mutant of S. mutans able to make only this enzyme and none of the other usual Gtfs or fructosyltransferase. Approximately 50% of the GtfB activity was inhibited in such assays. These results suggest that the AS of this enzyme is accessible to antibody binding and that this region of the protein may be considered a vulnerable target for vaccine design and development. The AS:CTB was able to bind GM1, ganglioside in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, indicating that the recombinant protein retained this property, which is though to be critical to the mucosal immunoadjuvant properties of CTB. Thus, this protein may be promising as a candidate anticaries vaccinogen alone or in combination with other Gtf peptides or conjugates.
The transcriptional repressor Rex has been implicated in regulation of energy metabolism and fermentative growth in response to redox potential. Streptococcus mutans, the primary causative agent of human dental caries, possesses a gene that encodes a protein with high similarity to members of the Rex family of proteins. In this study, we showed that Rex-deficiency compromised the ability of S. mutans to cope with oxidative stress and to form biofilms. The Rex-deficient mutant also accumulated less biofilm after 3-days than the wild-type strain, especially when grown in sucrose-containing medium, but produced more extracellular glucans than the parental strain. Rex-deficiency caused substantial alterations in gene transcription, including those involved in heterofermentative metabolism, NAD+ regeneration and oxidative stress. Among the up-regulated genes was gtfC, which encodes glucosyltransferase C, an enzyme primarily responsible for synthesis of water-insoluble glucans. These results reveal that Rex plays an important role in oxidative stress responses and biofilm formation by S. mutans.
Redox sensing; oxidative stress; biofilm formation; Streptococcus mutans
Bacteria produce a variety of enzymes capable of methylating DNA. In many species, the majority of adenine methylation is accomplished by the DNA adenine methylase Dam. In Escherichia coli the Dam methylase plays roles in the initiation of replication, mismatch repair, and gene regulation. In a number of other bacterial species, mutation or overexpression of Dam leads to attenuation of virulence. Homologues of the dam gene exist in some members of the Firmicutes, including Streptococcus mutans, a dental pathogen. An S. mutans strain inactivated in the dam gene (SMU.504; here designated damA) was engineered, and phenotypes linked to cariogenicity were examined. A prominent observation was that the damA mutant produced greater amounts of glucan than the parental strain. Real-time PCR confirmed upregulation of gtfB. To determine whether other loci were affected by the damA mutation, a microarray analysis was carried out. Seventy genes were upregulated at least 2-fold in the damA mutant, and 33 genes were downregulated at least 2-fold. In addition to gtfB (upregulated 2.6-fold; 1.7-fold when measured by real-time PCR), other upregulated virulence factors included gbpC (upregulated 2.1-fold) and loci predicted to encode bacteriocins (upregulated 2- to 7-fold). Various sugar transport operons were also upregulated, the most extreme being the cellobiose operon (upregulated nearly 40-fold). Expression of sacB, encoding fructosyltransferase, was downregulated 2.4-fold. The sequence 5′-GATC-3′ appeared to constitute the recognition sequence for methylation. These results provide evidence that DNA methylation in S. mutans has a global effect on gene expression, including that of genes associated with cariogenic potential.
The complete nucleotide sequence was determined for the Streptococcus downei (previously Streptococcus sobrinus) MFe28 gtfS gene which specifies a glucosyltransferase (GTF-S) producing water-soluble glucan. A single open reading frame which encodes a mature protein with a molecular weight of 147,408 (1,328 amino acids) and a putative signal peptide 36 or 37 amino acids in length was detected. GTF-S shares extensive sequence similarity with GTF-I (gtfI) from S. downei and GTF-I (gtfB) and GTF-SI (gtfC) from Streptococcus mutans. GTF-S contains a highly conserved enzymatic domain and C-terminal repeated sequences which appear to be involved in glucan binding. Comparison of the deduced GTF-S protein sequence with other sequenced GTF genes of mutans streptococci revealed that these C-terminal repeats occurred in all cases, although the patterns of repeated sequences varied with respect to each other and to the glucan-binding protein of S. mutans. GTF-S contains four C-terminal repeat sequences ranging from 49 to 51 amino acids in length and a partial repeat of 13 amino acids. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the glucan produced by GTF-S revealed that the product consisted of more than 90% alpha-1,6-linked glucosyl residues.
Studies of trace metals in drinking water and tooth enamel have suggested a caries-promoting potential for manganese (Mn). Additionally, Mn has been shown to be essential for the expression of mutans streptococci virulence factors such as the glucan-binding lectin (GBL) of Streptococcus sobrinus. The Streptococcus mutans glucan-binding protein (Gbp) GbpC is the functional analogue of the S. sobrinus GBL. S. mutans Gbps have been shown to contribute to biofilm architecture and virulence. This study was undertaken to examine the effects of Mn on the transcription of genes encoding S. mutans Gbps, including gbpC, along with other critical S. mutans virulence genes.
Microarray analyses suggested the potential for an Mn effect on Gbp genes. Further investigation of the Mn effects on selected genes was undertaken by performing Northern blots, Western blots, and RT-PCR under conditions of planktonic and biofilm growth in Mn-depleted media or in media containing 50 μM Mn.
Mn resulted in increased expression of gbpC and gtfB, and decreased expression of wapA, in both planktonic and biofilm cultures. The expression levels of gbpA and gbpD were also decreased in the presence of Mn, but only in biofilms. The expression of gtfC was increased in the presence of Mn only in planktonic cultures. The spaP gene was expressed more highly in Mn-supplemented planktonic cultures but less in Mn-supplemented biofilms.
Mn availability affects the expression of multiple S. mutans genes involved in adhesion and biofilm formation. Furthermore, these effects depend on the growth state of the organism.
Biofilm; Manganese; Streptococcus mutans virulence
The glucan-binding protein-A (GbpA) of Streptococcus mutans has been shown to contribute to the architecture of glucan-dependent biofilms formed by this species and influence virulence in a rat model. Since S. mutans synthesizes multiple glucosyltransferases (GTF) and non-GTF glucan-binding proteins (GBPs), it’s possible that there is functional redundancy that overshadows the full extent of GbpA contributions to S. mutans biology. Glucan-associated properties such as adhesion, aggregation, and biofilm formation were examined independently of other S. mutans GBPs by cloning the gbpA gene into a heterologous host, Streptococcus gordonii, and derivatives with altered or diminished GTF activity. The presence of GbpA did not alter dextran-dependent aggregation nor the initial sucrose-dependent adhesion of S. gordonii. However, expression of GbpA altered the biofilm formed by wild-type S. gordonii as well as the biofilm formed by strain CH107 that produced primarily α-1,6-linked glucan. Expression of gbpA did not alter the biofilm formed by strain DS512 that produced significantly lower quantities of parental glucan. These data are consistent with a role for GbpA in facilitating the development of biofilms that harbor taller microcolonies via binding to α-1,6-linkages within glucan. The magnitude of the GbpA effect appears dependent on the quantity and linkage of available glucan.