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1.  Roles of Sortase in Surface Expression of the Major Protein Adhesin P1, Saliva-Induced Aggregation and Adherence, and Cariogenicity of Streptococcus mutans  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(2):676-681.
Sortase is a newly discovered transpeptidase that covalently links LPXTGX-containing surface proteins to the gram-positive bacterial cell wall. In this study, the sortase gene (srtA) was isolated from Streptococcus mutans NG8 by PCR. The gene encoded a 246-amino-acid protein, including a 40-amino-acid signal peptide. The srtA gene was insertionally inactivated by a tetracycline resistance cassette. P1, a major surface protein adhesin previously shown to anchor to the peptidoglycan by the LPXTGX motif, was secreted into the culture medium by the srtA mutant. In contrast, the wild-type P1 remained cell wall associated. Complementation of the mutant with srtA restored the P1 surface expression phenotype. P1 produced by the mutant, but not that produced by the wild type and the srtA-complemented mutant, was recognized by an antibody raised against the hydrophobic domain and charged tail C terminal to the LPXTGX motif. These results suggest that the failure to anchor P1 to the cell wall is due to the lack of cleavage of P1 at the LPXTGX motif. The srtA mutant was markedly less hydrophobic than the wild type and the complemented mutant. The srtA mutant failed to aggregate in the presence of saliva or salivary agglutinin and adhered poorly to saliva- or salivary agglutinin-coated hydroxylapatite. In rats, the srtA mutant colonized the teeth poorly when sucrose was absent. When sucrose was present, the srtA mutant colonized the teeth but less effectively and induced significantly less caries (P < 0.05) than the wild-type strain. In conclusion, the sortase enzyme in S. mutans is responsible for anchoring P1 to the cell surface and plays a role in modulating the surface properties and cariogenicity of S. mutans.
PMCID: PMC145395  PMID: 12540545
2.  Trigger Factor in Streptococcus mutans Is Involved in Stress Tolerance, Competence Development, and Biofilm Formation  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(1):219-225.
Trigger factor is a ribosome-associated peptidyl-prolyl cis/trans isomerase that is highly conserved in most bacteria. A gene, designated ropA, encoding an apparent trigger factor homologue, was identified in Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiological agent of human dental caries. Inactivation of ropA had no major impact on growth rate in planktonic cultures under the conditions tested, although the RopA-deficient mutant formed long chains in broth. Deficiency of RopA decreased tolerance to acid killing and to oxidative stresses induced by hydrogen peroxide and paraquat, and it reduced transformation efficiency about 200-fold. Addition of synthetic competence-stimulating peptide to the culture medium enhanced transformability of both the mutant and wild-type strains, although the ropA strain did not attain levels of competence observed for the parent. Loss of RopA decreased the capacity of S. mutans to form biofilms by over 80% when cultivated in glucose, but it increased biofilm formation by over 50% when sucrose was provided as the carbohydrate source. Western blot analysis revealed that the expression of glucosyltransferases B and D was lower in the RopA-deficient mutant. These results suggest that RopA is a key regulator of acid and oxidative stress tolerance, genetic competence, and biofilm formation, all critical virulence properties of S. mutans.
PMCID: PMC538946  PMID: 15618157
3.  Roles of Salivary Components in Streptococcus mutans Colonization in a New Animal Model Using NOD/SCID.e2f1−/− Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32063.
Streptococcus mutans plays an important role in biofilm formation on the tooth surface and is the primary causative agent of dental caries. The binding of S. mutans to the salivary pellicle is of considerable etiologic significance and is important in biofilm development. Recently, we produced NOD/SCID.e2f1−/− mice that show hyposalivation, lower salivary antibody, and an extended life span compared to the parent strain: NOD.e2f1−/−. In this study we used NOD/SCID.e2f1−/− 4 or 6 mice to determine the roles of several salivary components in S. mutans colonization in vivo. S. mutans colonization in NOD/SCID.e2f1−/− mice was significantly increased when mice were pre-treated with human saliva or commercial salivary components. Interestingly, pre-treatment with secretory IgA (sIgA) at physiological concentrations promoted significant colonization of S. mutans compared with sIgA at higher concentrations, or with human saliva or other components. Our data suggest the principal effects of specific sIgA on S. mutans occur during S. mutans colonization, where the appropriate concentration of specific sIgA may serve as an anti-microbial agent, agglutinin, or an adherence receptor to surface antigens. Further, specific sIgA supported biofilm formation when the mice were supplied 1% sucrose water and a non-sucrose diet. The data suggests that there are multiple effects exerted by sIgA in S. mutans colonization, with synergistic effects evident under the condition of sIgA and limited nutrients on colonization in NOD/SCID.e2f1−/− mice. This is a new animal model that can be used to assess prevention methods for dental biofilm-dependent diseases such as dental caries.
PMCID: PMC3283720  PMID: 22363797
4.  Dynamics of Streptococcus mutans Transcriptome in Response to Starch and Sucrose during Biofilm Development 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13478.
The combination of sucrose and starch in the presence of surface-adsorbed salivary α-amylase and bacterial glucosyltransferases increase the formation of a structurally and metabolically distinctive biofilm by Streptococcus mutans. This host-pathogen-diet interaction may modulate the formation of pathogenic biofilms related to dental caries disease. We conducted a comprehensive study to further investigate the influence of the dietary carbohydrates on S. mutans-transcriptome at distinct stages of biofilm development using whole genomic profiling with a new computational tool (MDV) for data mining. S. mutans UA159 biofilms were formed on amylase-active saliva coated hydroxyapatite discs in the presence of various concentrations of sucrose alone (ranging from 0.25 to 5% w/v) or in combination with starch (0.5 to 1% w/v). Overall, the presence of sucrose and starch (suc+st) influenced the dynamics of S. mutans transcriptome (vs. sucrose alone), which may be associated with gradual digestion of starch by surface-adsorbed amylase. At 21 h of biofilm formation, most of the differentially expressed genes were related to sugar metabolism, such as upregulation of genes involved in maltose/maltotriose uptake and glycogen synthesis. In addition, the groEL/groES chaperones were induced in the suc+st-biofilm, indicating that presence of starch hydrolysates may cause environmental stress. In contrast, at 30 h of biofilm development, multiple genes associated with sugar uptake/transport (e.g. maltose), two-component systems, fermentation/glycolysis and iron transport were differentially expressed in suc+st-biofilms (vs. sucrose-biofilms). Interestingly, lytT (bacteria autolysis) was upregulated, which was correlated with presence of extracellular DNA in the matrix of suc+st-biofilms. Specific genes related to carbohydrate uptake and glycogen metabolism were detected in suc+st-biofilms in more than one time point, indicating an association between presence of starch hydrolysates and intracellular polysaccharide storage. Our data show complex remodeling of S. mutans-transcriptome in response to changing environmental conditions in situ, which could modulate the dynamics of biofilm development and pathogenicity.
PMCID: PMC2957427  PMID: 20976057
5.  Characterization of a P1-deficient strain of Streptococcus mutans that expresses the SpaA protein of Streptococcus sobrinus. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(9):3652-3658.
The Streptococcus sobrinus SpaA protein and the Streptococcus mutans P1 protein share 66% sequence homology at the amino acid level. To determine if the SpaA protein can be expressed in S. mutans and functionally replace the P1 protein, the spaA gene of S. sobrinus 6715 was isolated from plasmid pX1303 and inserted into the Escherichia coli-Streptococcus shuttle vector pVA838. The resulting plasmid pX1600 was transformed into the P1-deficient strain S. mutans 834 that has defects in saliva-mediated aggregation and in the ability to adhere to saliva-coated hydroxyapatite surfaces. Western blot (immunoblot) analysis of cellular protein fractions of S. mutans 834 (pX1600) detected in mutanolysin-solubilized cell walls a major protein of 210 kDa with an electrophoretic mobility similar to that of S. sobrinus SpaA protein and a minor 210-kDa protein and a major 64-kDa protein in the extracellular protein fraction. Analysis of virulence traits showed that expression of SpaA protein by S. mutans 834(pX1600) cells had restored the ability of the S. mutans 834 cells to aggregate in the presence of saliva or salivary agglutinin but not to adhere to saliva-coated hydroxyapatite. This cell aggregation was inhibited specifically by antisera to S. sobrinus SpaA protein. These results indicate that SpaA plays a role in the virulence of S. sobrinus by specifically interacting with fluid-phase salivary agglutinin to mediate cell aggregation.
PMCID: PMC174277  PMID: 8751913
6.  Interaction of Salivary alpha-Amylase and Amylase-Binding-Protein A (AbpA) of Streptococcus gordonii with Glucosyltransferase of S. gordonii and Streptococcus mutans 
BMC Microbiology  2007;7:60.
Glucosyltransferases (Gtfs), enzymes that produce extracellular glucans from dietary sucrose, contribute to dental plaque formation by Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus mutans. The alpha-amylase-binding protein A (AbpA) of S. gordonii, an early colonizing bacterium in dental plaque, interacts with salivary amylase and may influence dental plaque formation by this organism. We examined the interaction of amylase and recombinant AbpA (rAbpA), together with Gtfs of S. gordonii and S. mutans.
The addition of salivary alpha-amylase to culture supernatants of S. gordonii precipitated a protein complex containing amylase, AbpA, amylase-binding protein B (AbpB), and the glucosyltransferase produced by S. gordonii (Gtf-G). rAbpA was expressed from an inducible plasmid, purified from Escherichia coli and characterized. Purified rAbpA, along with purified amylase, interacted with and precipitated Gtfs from culture supernatants of both S. gordonii and S. mutans. The presence of amylase and/or rAbpA increased both the sucrase and transferase component activities of S. mutans Gtf-B. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using anti-Gtf-B antibody verified the interaction of rAbpA and amylase with Gtf-B. A S. gordonii abpA-deficient mutant showed greater biofilm growth under static conditions than wild-type in the presence of sucrose. Interestingly, biofilm formation by every strain was inhibited in the presence of saliva.
The results suggest that an extracellular protein network of AbpA-amylase-Gtf may influence the ecology of oral biofilms, likely during initial phases of colonization.
PMCID: PMC3225810  PMID: 17593303
7.  Differentiation of salivary agglutinin-mediated adherence and aggregation of mutans streptococci by use of monoclonal antibodies against the major surface adhesin P1. 
Infection and Immunity  1992;60(3):1008-1017.
The ability to adhere to salivary agglutinin-coated hydroxyapatite beads and to aggregate in the presence of fluid-phase salivary agglutinin was tested by using 25 isolates of mutants streptococci representing eight serotypes. Both adherence and aggregation activity correlated with expression of the Mr-185,000 cell surface antigen P1 on Streptococcus mutans serotype c, e, and f strains. In addition, it was shown that the P1 molecule itself served as the adhesin of S. mutans serotype c, since adherence was significantly inhibited by the presence of recombinant-specified Mr-150,000 P1. The ability of S. sobrinus strains to adhere or aggregate did not correlate with expression of the P1 cross-reactive antigen SpaA. There was also evidence for interaction with salivary agglutinin, as manifested by aggregation but not adherence of S. rattus serotype b, which does not express a P1 cross-reactive antigen. To understand the interaction of P1 with salivary agglutinin at the molecular level, a panel of 11 anti-P1 monoclonal antibodies was tested for inhibitory activity in adherence and aggregation inhibition assays. Overlapping, but not identical, subsets of monoclonal antibodies were found to inhibit adherence and aggregation, indicating that the interactions of P1 with salivary agglutinin which mediate these two phenomena are different. The localization of functional domains of P1 which may mediate the aggregation and adherence reactions is discussed.
PMCID: PMC257587  PMID: 1541515
8.  Streptococcus gordonii glucosyltransferase promotes biofilm interactions with Candida albicans  
Journal of Oral Microbiology  2014;6:10.3402/jom.v6.23419.
Candida albicans co-aggregates with Streptococcus gordonii to form biofilms and their interactions in mucosal biofilms may lead to pathogenic synergy. Although the functions of glucosyltransferases (Gtf) of Mutans streptococci have been well characterized, the biological roles of these enzymes in commensal oral streptococci, such as S. gordonii, in oral biofilm communities are less clear.
The objective of this work was to explore the role of GtfG, the single Gtf enzyme of S. gordonii, in biofilm interactions with C. albicans.
Biofilms were grown under salivary flow in flow cells in vitro, or under static conditions in 96 well plates. A panel of isogenic S. gordonii CH1 gtfG mutants and complemented strains were co-inoculated with C. albicans strain SC5314 to form mixed biofilms. Biofilm accretion and binding interactions between the two organisms were tested. Biofilms were quantified using confocal microscopy or the crystal violet assay.
The presence of GtfG enhanced dual biofilm accretion, and sucrose supplementation further augmented dual biofilm formation, pointing to a role of newly synthesized glucans. GtfG also promoted binding to C. albicans preformed biofilms. Soluble α-1,6-glucans played a role in these interactions since: 1) a strain producing only soluble glucans (CH107) formed robust dual biofilms under conditions of salivary flow; and 2) the dual biofilm was susceptible to enzymatic breakdown by dextranase which specifically degrades soluble α-1,6-glucans.
Our work identified a novel molecular mechanism for C. albicans and S. gordonii biofilm interactions, mediated by GtfG. This protein promotes early biofilm binding of S. gordonii to C. albicans which leads to increased accretion of streptococcal cells in mixed biofilms. We also showed that soluble glucans, with α-1,6-linkages, promoted inter-generic adhesive interactions.
PMCID: PMC3907680  PMID: 24490004
α-glucans; C. albicans; S. gordonii; biofilms; glucosyltransferases
9.  Cloning and expression of a Streptococcus sanguis surface antigen that interacts with a human salivary agglutinin. 
Infection and Immunity  1988;56(9):2484-2490.
Human saliva contains a high-molecular-weight glycoprotein (agglutinin) which binds to specific streptococci in a calcium-dependent reaction leading to the formation of bacterial aggregates. We report the cloning of a gene encoding a surface antigen from Streptococcus sanguis M5 and show that the expressed protein inhibits agglutinin-mediated aggregation and specifically binds the salivary agglutinin in a calcium-dependent fashion. Clones isolated from the immunological screening of S. sanguis M5 genomic libraries with polyclonal antibodies against whole cells were assayed for the ability to compete with S. sanguis for agglutinin. One clone, pSSP-5, expressed antigens of 165 and 130 kilodaltons (kDa) possessing this activity. A 3-kilobase-pair (kbp) insert fragment from this clone was used to screen a genomic library in lambda EMBL3 which resulted in the isolation of clone SSP-5A. This clone contained an insert of 17 kb and expressed proteins of 170 to 205 kDa that reacted with the anti-S. sanguis antibodies. Subcloning of a 5.3-kbp EcoRI-BamHI fragment from SSP-5A produced pEB-5, which expressed streptococcal components that were indistinguishable from SSP-5A. The streptococcal antigen was purified by gel permeation and ion exchange chromatography and shown to potently compete with S. sanguis M5 cells for agglutinin. The antigen also bound purified salivary agglutinin in the presence of 1 mM CaCl2. This binding was inhibited by EDTA. Both the SSP-5 antigen and a 205-kDa protein in surface protein extracts from S. sanguis M5 cross-reacted with antibodies directed against antigen B from S. mutans and SpaA from S. sobrinus 6715. These results indicate that a 205-kDa surface protein that is antigenically related to SpaA and antigen B is involved in the binding of salivary agglutinin to S. sanguis M5.
PMCID: PMC259592  PMID: 3410546
10.  Assessment of Genes Associated with Streptococcus mutans Biofilm Morphology 
Streptococcus mutans, the major pathogen responsible for dental caries in humans, is a biofilm-forming bacterium. In the present study, 17 different pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of genomic DNA were identified in S. mutans organisms isolated clinically from whole saliva. The S. mutans isolates showed different abilities to form biofilms on polystyrene surfaces in semidefined minimal medium cultures. Following cultivation in a flow cell system in tryptic soy broth with 0.25% sucrose and staining using a BacLight LIVE/DEAD system, two strains, designated FSC-3 and FSC-4, showed the greatest and least, respectively, levels of biofilm formation when examined with confocal laser scanning microscopy. Further, image analyses of spatial distribution and architecture were performed to quantify the merged green (live cells) and red (dead cells) light. The light intensity of the FSC-3 biofilm was greater than that of the FSC-4 biofilm in the bottom area but not in the top area. S. mutans whole-genome array results showed that approximately 3.8% of the genes were differentially expressed in the two strains, of which approximately 2.2%, including bacitracin transport ATP-binding protein gene glrA and a BLpL-like putative immunity protein gene, were activated in FSC-3. In addition, about 1.6% of the genes, including those associated with phosphotransferase system genes, were repressed. Analyses of the glrA-deficient strains and reverse transcription-PCR confirmed the role of the gene in biofilm formation. Differential assessment of biofilm-associated genes in clinical strains may provide useful information for understanding the morphological development of streptococcal biofilm, as well as for colonization of S. mutans.
PMCID: PMC1563623  PMID: 16957255
11.  Reduction of Streptococcus mutans Adherence and Dental Biofilm Formation by Surface Treatment with Phosphorylated Polyethylene Glycol▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2007;51(10):3634-3641.
Initial attachment of the cariogenic Streptococcus mutans onto dental enamel is largely promoted by the adsorption of specific salivary proteins on enamel surface. Some phosphorylated salivary proteins were found to reduce S. mutans adhesion by competitively inhibiting the adsorption of S. mutans-binding salivary glycoproteins to hydroxyapatite (HA). The aim of this study was to develop antiadherence compounds for preventing dental biofilm development. We synthesized phosphorylated polyethylene glycol (PEG) derivatives and examined the possibility of surface pretreatment with them for preventing S. mutans adhesion in vitro and dental biofilm formation in vivo. Pretreatment of the HA surface with methacryloyloxydecyl phosphate (MDP)-PEG prior to saliva incubation hydrophilized the surface and thereby reduced salivary protein adsorption and saliva-promoted bacterial attachment to HA. However, when MDP-PEG was added to the saliva-pretreated HA (S-HA) surface, its inhibitory effect on bacterial binding was completely diminished. S. mutans adhesion onto S-HA was successfully reduced by treatment of the surface with pyrophosphate (PP), which desorbs salivary components from S-HA. Treatment of S-HA surfaces with MDP-PEG plus PP completely inhibited saliva-promoted S. mutans adhesion even when followed by additional saliva treatment. Finally, mouthwash with MDP-PEG plus PP prevented de novo biofilm development after thorough teeth cleaning in humans compared to either water or PP alone. We conclude that MDP-PEG plus PP has the potential for use as an antiadherence agent that prevents dental biofilm development.
PMCID: PMC2043269  PMID: 17646419
12.  Anti-caries DNA vaccine-induced secretory immunoglobulin A antibodies inhibit formation of Streptococcus mutans biofilms in vitro 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2012;34(2):239-246.
To investigate the effects of anti-caries DNA vaccine-induced salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (S-IgA) antibodies on Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) adherence and biofilms formation in vitro.
Adult female Wistar rats were intranasally immunized with the anti-caries DNA vaccine pGJA-P/VAX. Their saliva samples were collected at different times after the immunization, and S-IgA antibody level in the saliva and its inhibition on S. mutans adherence were examined. The effects of S-IgA in the saliva with the strongest inhibitory effects were examined at 3 different stages, ie acquired pellicles, biofilm formation and production of mature biofilms. The number of viable bacteria and depth of the biofilm at 16 h in each stage were determined using counting colony forming units and using a confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). The participation of S-IgA in acquired pellicles and its aggregation with S. mutans were also observed under CLSM.
The S-IgA titer in saliva reached its peak and exhibited the strongest inhibition on S. mutans adhesion at 10 weeks after the immunization. The colonies and depth of the biofilm in the saliva-pretreated group were 41.79% and 41.02%, respectively, less than the control group. The colonies and depth of the biofilm in the co-culture group were 27.4% and 22.81% less than the control group. The assembly of S. mutans and S-IgA was observed under CLSM after co-cultivation. In the mature-stage biofilm, no differences were observed between the different groups.
These results demonstrate that the anti-caries DNA vaccine induces the production of specific S-IgA antibodies that may prevent dental caries by inhibiting the initial adherence of S. mutans onto tooth surfaces, thereby reducing the accumulation of S. mutans on the acquired pellicles.
PMCID: PMC4089030  PMID: 23274411
teeth; dental plaque; dental caries; Streptococcus mutans; biofilm; S-IgA; DNA vaccine
13.  Exopolysaccharides Produced by Streptococcus mutans Glucosyltransferases Modulate the Establishment of Microcolonies within Multispecies Biofilms▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(12):3024-3032.
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.
PMCID: PMC2901689  PMID: 20233920
14.  Role of sortase in Streptococcus mutans under the effect of nicotine 
Streptococcus mutans is a common Gram-positive bacterium and plays a significant role in dental caries. Tobacco and/or nicotine have documented effects on S. mutans growth and colonization. Sortase A is used by many Gram-positive bacteria, including S. mutans, to facilitate the insertion of certain cell surface proteins, containing an LPXTGX motif such as antigen I/II. This study examined the effect of nicotine on the function of sortase A to control the physiology and growth of S. mutans using wild-type S. mutans NG8, and its isogenic sortase-defective and -complemented strains. Briefly, the strains were treated with increasing amounts of nicotine in planktonic growth, biofilm metabolism, and sucrose-induced and saliva-induced antigen I/II-dependent biofilm formation assays. The strains exhibited no significant differences with different concentrations of nicotine in planktonic growth assays. However, they had significantly increased (P≤0.05) biofilm metabolic activity (2- to 3-fold increase) as the concentration of nicotine increased. Furthermore, the sortase-defective strain was more sensitive metabolically to nicotine than the wild-type or sortase-complemented strains. All strains had significantly increased sucrose-induced biofilm formation (2- to 3-fold increase) as a result of increasing concentrations of nicotine. However, the sortase-defective strain was not able to make as much sucrose- and saliva-induced biofilm as the wild-type NG8 did with increasing nicotine concentrations. These results indicated that nicotine increased metabolic activity and sucrose-induced biofilm formation. The saliva-induced biofilm formation assay and qPCR data suggested that antigen I/II was upregulated with nicotine but biofilm was not able to be formed as much as wild-type NG8 without functional sortase A.
PMCID: PMC3967321  PMID: 24136674
dental caries; metabolism; nicotine; sortase A; Streptococcus mutans
15.  Streptococcus mutans Protein Synthesis during Mixed-Species Biofilm Development by High-Throughput Quantitative Proteomics 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45795.
Biofilms formed on tooth surfaces are comprised of mixed microbiota enmeshed in an extracellular matrix. Oral biofilms are constantly exposed to environmental changes, which influence the microbial composition, matrix formation and expression of virulence. Streptococcus mutans and sucrose are key modulators associated with the evolution of virulent-cariogenic biofilms. In this study, we used a high-throughput quantitative proteomics approach to examine how S. mutans produces relevant proteins that facilitate its establishment and optimal survival during mixed-species biofilms development induced by sucrose. Biofilms of S. mutans, alone or mixed with Actinomyces naeslundii and Streptococcus oralis, were initially formed onto saliva-coated hydroxyapatite surface under carbohydrate-limiting condition. Sucrose (1%, w/v) was then introduced to cause environmental changes, and to induce biofilm accumulation. Multidimensional protein identification technology (MudPIT) approach detected up to 60% of proteins encoded by S. mutans within biofilms. Specific proteins associated with exopolysaccharide matrix assembly, metabolic and stress adaptation processes were highly abundant as the biofilm transit from earlier to later developmental stages following sucrose introduction. Our results indicate that S. mutans within a mixed-species biofilm community increases the expression of specific genes associated with glucan synthesis and remodeling (gtfBC, dexA) and glucan-binding (gbpB) during this transition (P<0.05). Furthermore, S. mutans up-regulates specific adaptation mechanisms to cope with acidic environments (F1F0-ATPase system, fatty acid biosynthesis, branched chain amino acids metabolism), and molecular chaperones (GroEL). Interestingly, the protein levels and gene expression are in general augmented when S. mutans form mixed-species biofilms (vs. single-species biofilms) demonstrating fundamental differences in the matrix assembly, survival and biofilm maintenance in the presence of other organisms. Our data provide insights about how S. mutans optimizes its metabolism and adapts/survives within the mixed-species community in response to a dynamically changing environment. This reflects the intricate physiological processes linked to expression of virulence by this bacterium within complex biofilms.
PMCID: PMC3458072  PMID: 23049864
16.  Functional amyloid formation by Streptococcus mutans 
Microbiology  2012;158(Pt 12):2903-2916.
Dental caries is a common infectious disease associated with acidogenic and aciduric bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans. Organisms that cause cavities form recalcitrant biofilms, generate acids from dietary sugars and tolerate acid end products. It has recently been recognized that micro-organisms can produce functional amyloids that are integral to biofilm development. We now show that the S. mutans cell-surface-localized adhesin P1 (antigen I/II, PAc) is an amyloid-forming protein. This conclusion is based on the defining properties of amyloids, including binding by the amyloidophilic dyes Congo red (CR) and Thioflavin T (ThT), visualization of amyloid fibres by transmission electron microscopy and the green birefringent properties of CR-stained protein aggregates when viewed under cross-polarized light. We provide evidence that amyloid is present in human dental plaque and is produced by both laboratory strains and clinical isolates of S. mutans. We provide further evidence that amyloid formation is not limited to P1, since bacterial colonies without this adhesin demonstrate residual green birefringence. However, S. mutans lacking sortase, the transpeptidase enzyme that mediates the covalent linkage of its substrates to the cell-wall peptidoglycan, including P1 and five other proteins, is not birefringent when stained with CR and does not form biofilms. Biofilm formation is inhibited when S. mutans is cultured in the presence of known inhibitors of amyloid fibrillization, including CR, Thioflavin S and epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which also inhibited ThT uptake by S. mutans extracellular proteins. Taken together, these results indicate that S. mutans is an amyloid-forming organism and suggest that amyloidogenesis contributes to biofilm formation by this oral microbe.
PMCID: PMC4083658  PMID: 23082034
17.  Strains of Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus attach to different pellicle receptors. 
Infection and Immunity  1986;52(2):555-561.
We compared the levels of adsorption of Streptococcus mutans JBP and Streptococcus sobrinus 6715 to experimental pellicles formed from unsupplemented and glucosyltransferase (GTF)-supplemented saliva. Pellicles formed on hydroxyapatite beads from GTF or from saliva-GTF mixtures possessed detectable GTF activity. Low levels of GTF activity were also detected in clarified whole human saliva, but not in samples of submandibular saliva. The adsorptive behavior of S. mutans JBP to pellicles formed from saliva or saliva-GTF mixtures was strikingly different from that of S. sobrinus 6715. S. mutans JBP adsorbed in higher numbers to pellicles formed from whole or submandibular saliva than to buffer-treated hydroxyapatite under the assay conditions used, in which blocking with albumin was used. In contrast, S. sobrinus 6715 attached in lower numbers and did not show enhanced adsorption to pellicles prepared from saliva. Pellicles prepared from the high-molecular-weight mucin fraction of submandibular saliva effectively promoted adsorption of S. mutans JBP, but none of the saliva fractions tested enhanced the attachment of S. sobrinus 6715 above the levels of buffer controls. Exposure of pellicles which contained GTF to sucrose to permit in situ synthesis of glucan markedly enhanced attachment of S. sobrinus 6715 but not attachment of S. mutans JBP. Also, the presence of sucrose throughout the adsorption period did not enhance attachment of S. mutans JBP. Both organisms possessed cell-associated GTF, and GTF preparations derived from S. sobrinus 6715 and Streptococcus sanguis FC-1 behaved like GTF derived from S. mutans JBP. S. sobrinus 6715 attached in high numbers to dextran-treated hydroxyapatite, whereas S. mutans JBP did not. These observations suggest that S. mutans JBP cells possess an adhesin which binds to salivary components in the pellicles. In contrast, S. sobrinus 6715 cells appear to possess an adhesin which binds to glucan in the pellicles. Four additional strains of S. mutans and four additional strains of S. sobrinus behaved qualitatively like strains JBP and 6715, respectively, and thus the differences observed appear to be representative of these species. Collectively, our data indicate that S. mutans and S. sobrinus attach to different receptors in experimental pellicles.
PMCID: PMC261036  PMID: 2422126
18.  Inhibition of Streptococcus mutans biofilm formation on composite resins containing ursolic acid 
To evaluate the inhibitory effect of ursolic acid (UA)-containing composites on Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) biofilm.
Materials and Methods
Composite resins with five different concentrations (0.04, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, and 1.0 wt%) of UA (U6753, Sigma Aldrich) were prepared, and their flexural strengths were measured according to ISO 4049. To evaluate the effect of carbohydrate source on biofilm formation, either glucose or sucrose was used as a nutrient source, and to investigate the effect of saliva treatment, the specimen were treated with either unstimulated whole saliva or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). For biofilm assay, composite disks were transferred to S. mutans suspension and incubated for 24 hr. Afterwards, the specimens were rinsed with PBS and sonicated. The colony forming units (CFU) of the disrupted biofilm cultures were enumerated. For growth inhibition test, the composites were placed on a polystyrene well cluster, and S. mutans suspension was inoculated. The optical density at 600 nm (OD600) was recorded by Infinite F200 pro apparatus (TECAN). One-way ANOVA and two-way ANOVA followed by Bonferroni correction were used for the data analyses.
The flexural strength values did not show significant difference at any concentration (p > 0.01). In biofilm assay, the CFU score decreased as the concentration of UA increased. The influence of saliva pretreatment was conflicting. The sucrose groups exhibited higher CFU score than glucose group (p < 0.05). In bacterial growth inhibition test, all experimental groups containing UA resulted in complete inhibition.
Within the limitations of the experiments, UA included in the composite showed inhibitory effect on S. mutans biofilm formation and growth.
PMCID: PMC3670979  PMID: 23741708
Antibacterial composite; Biofilm; Streptococcus mutans; Ursolic acid
19.  Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Whole Secretome and Amylase-precipitated Secretome Proteins from Streptococcus gordonii 
Oral biofilm (dental plaque) is formed by the initial adhesion of “pioneer species” to salivary proteins that form the dental pellicle on the tooth surface. One such pioneer species, Streptococcus gordonii, is known to bind salivary amylase through specific amylase-binding proteins such as amylase-binding protein A (AbpA). Recent studies have demonstrated that once bound, salivary amylase appears to modulate gene expression in S. gordonii. However, it is not known if this amylase-induced gene expression leads to secretion of proteins that play a role in plaque biofilm formation. In this study we examined the differences in secreted proteomes between S. gordonii KS1 (wild type) and AbpA-deficient (ΔAbpA) strains. We also examined the differentially precipitated secretome proteins following incubation with salivary amylase. The culture supernatants from KS1 and ΔAbpA were analyzed by nano-LC/MS/MS to characterize the whole secreted proteomes of the KS1 and ΔAbpA. A total of 107 proteins were identified in the KS1 and ΔAbpA secretomes of which 72 proteins were predicted to have an N-terminal signal peptide for secretion. Five proteins were differentially expressed between the KS1 and ΔAbpA secretomes; AbpA and sortase B were expressed exclusively by KS1, whereas Gdh, AdcA and GroEL were expressed only by ΔAbpA. Incubation of culture supernatants from KS1 and ΔAbpA with amylase (50 μg/ml) at room temperature for 2 h resulted in the differential precipitation of secretome proteins. Hypothetical protein (SGO_0483), cation-transporting ATPase YfgQ (Aha1), isocitrate dehydrogenase (Icd), sortase A (SrtA), beta-N-acetylhexosaminidase (SGO_0405), peptide chain release factor 1(PrfA) and cardiolipin synthase (SGO_2037) were precipitated by amylase from the KS1 culture supernatant. Among the identified secreted proteins and amylase-precipitated proteins, transcriptional regulator LytR (SGO_0535) and cation-transporting ATPase YfgQ (Aha1) are potential signaling proteins.
PMCID: PMC4297671  PMID: 25605983
Amylase-binding proteins; Proteomic analysis; Secretome; AbpA; AbpB; GtfG
20.  Targeted Antimicrobial Therapy Against Streptococcus mutans Establishes Protective Non-cariogenic Oral Biofilms and Reduces Subsequent Infection 
Dental biofilms are complex communities composed largely of harmless bacteria. Certain pathogenic species including Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) can become predominant when host factors such as dietary sucrose intake imbalance the biofilm ecology. Current approaches to control S. mutans infection are not pathogen-specific and eliminate the entire oral community along with any protective benefits provided. Here, we tested the hypothesis that removal of S. mutans from the oral community through targeted antimicrobial therapy achieves protection against subsequent S. mutans colonization.
Controlled amounts of S. mutans were mixed with S. mutans-free saliva, grown into biofilms and visualized by antibody staining and cfu quantization. Two specifically-targeted antimicrobial peptides (STAMPs) against S. mutans were tested for their ability to reduce S. mutans biofilm incorporation upon treatment of the inocula. The resulting biofilms were also evaluated for their ability to resist subsequent exogenous S. mutans colonization.
S. mutans colonization was considerably reduced (9 ± 0.4 fold reduction, P=0.01) when the surface was preoccupied with saliva-derived biofilms. Furthermore, treatment with S. mutans-specific STAMPs yielded S. mutans-deficient biofilms with significant protection against further S. mutans colonization (5 minutes treatment: 38 ± 13 fold reduction P=0.01; 16 hours treatment: 96 ± 28 fold reduction P=0.07).
S. mutans infection is reduced by the presence of existing biofilms. Thus maintaining a healthy or “normal” biofilm through targeted antimicrobial therapy (such as the STAMPs) could represent an effective strategy for the treatment and prevention of S. mutans colonization in the oral cavity and caries progression.
PMCID: PMC3733586  PMID: 20737932
targeted antimicrobial therapy; antimicrobial peptide; biofilm; Streptococcus mutans; protective colonization; caries
21.  Salivary-agglutinin-mediated adherence of Streptococcus mutans to early plaque bacteria. 
Infection and Immunity  1991;59(10):3446-3450.
Interspecies binding is important in the colonization of the oral cavity by bacteria. Streptococcus mutans can adhere to other plaque bacteria, such as Streptococcus sanguis and Actinomyces viscosus, and this adherence is enhanced by saliva. The salivary and bacterial molecules that mediate this interaction were investigated. Salivary agglutinin, a mucinlike glycoprotein known to mediate the aggregation of many oral streptococci in vitro, was found to mediate the adherence of S. mutans to S. sanguis or A. viscosus. Adherence of S. mutans to saliva- or agglutinin-coated S. sanguis and A. viscosus was inhibited by antibodies to the bacterial agglutinin receptor. Expression of the S. sanguis receptor (SSP-5) gene in Enterococcus faecalis increased adhesion of this organism to saliva- or agglutinin-coated S. sanguis and A. viscosus. This interaction could be inhibited by antibodies to the agglutinin receptor. The results suggest that salivary agglutinin can promote adherence of S. mutans to S. sanguis and A. viscosus through interactions with the agglutinin receptor on S. mutans.
PMCID: PMC258905  PMID: 1894355
22.  Inhibition of Streptococcus mutans Biofilm Formation by Streptococcus salivarius FruA▿  
The oral microbial flora consists of many beneficial species of bacteria that are associated with a healthy condition and control the progression of oral disease. Cooperative interactions between oral streptococci and the pathogens play important roles in the development of dental biofilms in the oral cavity. To determine the roles of oral streptococci in multispecies biofilm development and the effects of the streptococci in biofilm formation, the active substances inhibiting Streptococcus mutans biofilm formation were purified from Streptococcus salivarius ATCC 9759 and HT9R culture supernatants using ion exchange and gel filtration chromatography. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry analysis was performed, and the results were compared to databases. The S. salivarius HT9R genome sequence was determined and used to indentify candidate proteins for inhibition. The candidates inhibiting biofilms were identified as S. salivarius fructosyltransferase (FTF) and exo-beta-d-fructosidase (FruA). The activity of the inhibitors was elevated in the presence of sucrose, and the inhibitory effects were dependent on the sucrose concentration in the biofilm formation assay medium. Purified and commercial FruA from Aspergillus niger (31.6% identity and 59.6% similarity to the amino acid sequence of FruA from S. salivarius HT9R) completely inhibited S. mutans GS-5 biofilm formation on saliva-coated polystyrene and hydroxyapatite surfaces. Inhibition was induced by decreasing polysaccharide production, which is dependent on sucrose digestion rather than fructan digestion. The data indicate that S. salivarius produces large quantities of FruA and that FruA alone may play an important role in multispecies microbial interactions for sucrose-dependent biofilm formation in the oral cavity.
PMCID: PMC3067281  PMID: 21239559
23.  Differentiation and interaction of secretory immunoglobulin A and a calcium-dependent parotid agglutinin for several bacterial strains. 
Infection and Immunity  1987;55(2):288-292.
Previous studies have suggested that both secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) and various nonimmunoglobulin salivary glycoproteins are capable of agglutinating a variety of bacteria. The present study was designed to compare the nature of the agglutinins for Streptococcus mutans and Salmonella typhimurium in parotid saliva and colostrum. S. mutans was aggregated by saliva and colostrum, whereas S. typhimurium was aggregated only by saliva as detected by a spectrophotometric method. The principal salivary agglutinin for both S. mutans and S. typhimurium was calcium dependent and could be desorbed in phosphate-buffered saline (pH 6.8). In contrast, the colostral agglutinin was calcium independent and not readily desorbed. The agglutinin activities of saliva and colostrum for S. mutans were additive, suggesting independent target sites on the bacterial surface. The agglutinin activity of colostrum was totally associated with sIgA as was suggested by blocking of the agglutinating activity with anti-alpha-chain serum and the absence of blocking with an antibody specific for salivary agglutinin. Interestingly, anti-alpha-chain serum removed all agglutinating activity from saliva, but not from the phosphate-buffered saline-desorbed agglutinin. Dialysis of parotid saliva against 0.1 M disodium EDTA eliminated the agglutinin blocking activity of anti-alpha-chain serum but not that of the antiagglutinin antibody. The ability of anti-alpha-chain serum to block agglutination of the EDTA-dialyzed saliva could be restored by the addition of calcium chloride, suggesting that sIgA and salivary agglutinin are associated through a calcium-mediated interaction. These results indicate that bacterial agglutinating activity of colostrum, as detected spectrophotometrically, is mediated by sIgA, and that of saliva is mainly dependent upon a calcium-dependent nonimmunoglobulin agglutinin. The agglutinating activities of sIgA and parotid agglutinin seem to be additive, and their calcium-dependent association may favor the enhancement of their respective activities.
PMCID: PMC260323  PMID: 3100447
24.  Construction and characterization of isogenic mutants of Streptococcus mutans deficient in major surface protein antigen P1 (I/II). 
Infection and Immunity  1989;57(11):3306-3313.
The gene (spaP) coding for the Streptococcus mutans major surface protein antigen P1 (or I/II) has been cloned into Escherichia coli (S. F. Lee, A. Progulske-Fox, and A. S. Bleiweis, Infect. Immun. 56:2114-2119, 1988). In the present study, this gene has been disrupted in vitro by insertional inactivation with pVA981, which carries a Tcr marker, and transformed into S. mutans NG8 (serotype c) by electroporation. Upon homologous recombination, the defective spaP was integrated into the genome as demonstrated by Southern hybridization analysis. One Tcr mutant, designated 834, selected by its nonreactivity with anti-P1 monoclonal antibodies, was found to lack the cell surface fuzzy layer which was clearly present on the parent cells. Analysis of extracellular fluids, sodium dodecyl sulfate-solubilized membranes, and cytoplasmic fractions by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis showed that 834 had protein profiles identical to the parent. However, a 185-kilodalton protein which reacts with anti-P1 antibodies was missing from the wall of 834, suggesting that spaP has been specifically inactivated. This mutant displayed levels of glucosyltransferase and fructosyltransferase activities similar to those of the parent. It was much less hydrophobic than the parent. S. mutans NG8 aggregated readily in the presence of clarified whole saliva or a high-molecular-weight salivary agglutinin. This strain also adhered to agglutinin-coated hydroxyapatite. The P1-negative mutants, however, did not display these two properties, suggesting that P1 may play a role in saliva-mediated aggregation and adherence.
PMCID: PMC259806  PMID: 2807526
25.  Isolation and characterization of a 60-kilodalton salivary glycoprotein with agglutinating activity against strains of Streptococcus mutans. 
Infection and Immunity  1986;51(2):405-413.
A bacterial agglutinin specific for strains of Streptococcus mutans was isolated from human saliva. Physiochemical analyses showed the agglutinin to be a glycoprotein with a molecular weight of 60,000. The agglutinin aggregated four of the eight strains of Streptococcus mutans tested but did not aggregate the strains of Streptococcus salivarius, Streptococcus sanguis, and Streptococcus mitis tested. Chemical modification of carbohydrate moieties of the agglutinin with sodium metaperiodate had no effect on aggregation, whereas modification of the polypeptide portion with trypsin abolished aggregating activity. A set of five murine hybridoma antibodies was employed to further analyze the agglutinin. Two carbohydrate-specific antibodies, directed against D-mannose and N-acetylgalactosamine moieties, respectively, failed to block agglutinin- or whole saliva-mediated aggregation of S. mutans cells. In contrast, two antibodies directed against pronase-sensitive antigenic sites blocked both agglutinin- and saliva-mediated aggregation of S. mutans cells. Western blot analysis with the agglutinin-specific hybridoma antibodies demonstrated the agglutinin in whole saliva and in artificial tooth pellicles formed on hydroxyapatite beads incubated with saliva. These results suggest that a 60-kilodalton glycoprotein of human saliva is a bacterial agglutinin with specificity for certain strains of S. mutans. They further suggest that aggregation is mediated by polypeptide rather than carbohydrate determinants of the glycoprotein.
PMCID: PMC262341  PMID: 3002983

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