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1.  Characterization of Streptococcus mutans Strains Deficient in EIIABMan of the Sugar Phosphotransferase System 
The phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) is the major sugar uptake system in oral streptococci. The role of EIIABMan (encoded by manL) in gene regulation and sugar transport was investigated in Streptococcus mutans UA159. The manL knockout strain, JAM1, grew more slowly than the wild-type strain in glucose but grew faster in mannose and did not display diauxic growth, indicating that EIIABMan is involved in sugar uptake and in carbohydrate catabolite repression. PTS assays of JAM1, and of strains lacking the inducible (fruI) and constitutive (fruCD) EII fructose, revealed that S. mutans EIIABMan transported mannose and glucose and provided evidence that there was also a mannose-inducible or glucose-repressible mannose PTS. Additionally, there appears to be a fructose PTS that is different than FruI and FruCD. To determine whether EIIABMan controlled expression of the known virulence genes, glucosyltransferases (gtfBC) and fructosyltransferase (ftf) promoter fusions of these genes were established in the wild-type and EIIABMan-deficient strains. In the manL mutant, the level of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase activity expressed from the gtfBC promoter was up to threefold lower than that seen with the wild-type strain at pH 6 and 7, indicating that EIIABMan is required for optimal expression of gtfBC. No significant differences were observed between the mutant and the wild-type background in ftf regulation, with the exception that under glucose-limiting conditions at pH 7, the mutant exhibited a 2.1-fold increase in ftf expression. Two-dimensional gel analysis of batch-grown cells of the EIIABMan-deficient strain indicated that the expression of at least 38 proteins was altered compared to that seen with the wild-type strain, revealing that EIIABMan has a pleiotropic effect on gene expression.
PMCID: PMC169087  PMID: 12902269
2.  Modification of Gene Expression and Virulence Traits in Streptococcus mutans in Response to Carbohydrate Availability 
The genetic and phenotypic responses of Streptococcus mutans, an organism that is strongly associated with the development of dental caries, to changes in carbohydrate availability were investigated. S. mutans UA159 or a derivative of UA159 lacking ManL, which is the EIIAB component (EIIABMan) of a glucose/mannose permease of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) and a dominant effector of catabolite repression, was grown in continuous culture to steady state under conditions of excess (100 mM) or limiting (10 mM) glucose. Microarrays using RNA from S. mutans UA159 revealed that 174 genes were differentially expressed in response to changes in carbohydrate availability (P < 0.001). Glucose-limited cells possessed higher PTS activity, could acidify the environment more rapidly and to a greater extent, and produced more ManL protein than cultures grown with excess glucose. Loss of ManL adversely affected carbohydrate transport and acid tolerance. Comparison of the histidine protein (HPr) in S. mutans UA159 and the manL deletion strain indicated that the differences in the behaviors of the strains were not due to major differences in HPr pools or HPr phosphorylation status. Therefore, carbohydrate availability alone can dramatically influence the expression of physiologic and biochemical pathways that contribute directly to the virulence of S. mutans, and ManL has a profound influence on this behavior.
PMCID: PMC3911228  PMID: 24271168
3.  Effect of growth conditions on levels of components of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system in Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus grown in continuous culture. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1987;169(12):5686-5691.
The membrane-bound, sugar-specific enzyme II (EII) component of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) in Streptococcus mutans Ingbritt is repressed by growth on glucose under various conditions in continuous culture. Compared with optimal PTS conditions (i.e., glucose limitation, dilution rate [D] of 0.1 h-1, and pH 7.0), EII activity for glucose (EIIGlc) and mannose (EIIMan) in cells grown at a D of 0.4 h-1 and pH 5.5 with the same glucose concentration was reduced 24- to 27-fold. EII activity with methyl alpha-glucoside and 2-deoxyglucose was reduced 6- and 26-fold, respectively. Growth with excess glucose (i.e., nitrogen limitation) resulted in 26- to 88-fold repression of EII activity with these substrates. The above conditions of low pH, high dilution rate, and excess glucose also repressed EII activity for fructose (EIIFru), but to a lesser extent (two- to fivefold). Conversely, growth of S. mutans DR0001 at a D of 0.2 h-1 and pH 5.5 resulted in increased EIIGlc and EIIMan activity. Unlike the EII component, the HPr concentration in S. mutans Ingbritt varied only twofold (5.5 to 11.4 nmol/mg of protein) despite growth at pH 5.5 with limiting and excess glucose. The HPr concentrations in S. mutans DR0001 and the glucose-PTS-defective mutant DR0001/6 were similar. In a companion study, the soluble components of the PTS (i.e., HPr, EI, and EIIILac) in Streptococcus sobrinus grown on limiting lactose in a chemostat were not influenced significantly by growth at various pHs (7.0 and 5.0) and growth rates (D of 0.1, 0.54, and 0.8 h-1). However, growth on lactose resulted in repression of both EIIGlc and EIIFru, confirming earlier results with batch-grown cells. Thus, the glucose-PTS in some strains of S. mutans is regulated at the level of EII synthesis by certain environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC214049  PMID: 3680174
4.  The EIIABMan Phosphotransferase System Permease Regulates Carbohydrate Catabolite Repression in Streptococcus gordonii▿ †  
Commensal oral streptococci play critical roles in oral biofilm formation and promote dental health by competing with, and antagonizing the growth of, pathogenic organisms, such as Streptococcus mutans. Efficient utilization of the spectrum of carbohydrates in the oral cavity by commensal streptococci is essential for their persistence, and yet very little is known about the regulation of carbohydrate catabolism by these organisms. Carbohydrate catabolite repression (CCR) in the abundant oral commensal Streptococcus gordonii strain DL-1 was investigated using the exo-β-d-fructosidase gene (fruA) and a fructose/mannose sugar:phosphotransferase (PTS) enzyme II operon (levDEFG) as model systems. Functional studies confirmed the predicted roles of FruA and LevD in S. gordonii. ManL, the AB domain of a fructose/mannose-type enzyme II PTS permease, contributed to utilization of glucose, mannose, galactose, and fructose and exerted primary control over CCR of the fruA and levD operons. Unlike in S. mutans, ManL-dependent CCR was not sugar specific, and galactose was very effective at eliciting CCR in S. gordonii. Inactivation of the apparent ccpA homologue of S. gordonii actually enhanced CCR of fruA and levD, an effect likely due to its demonstrated role in repression of manL expression. Thus, there are some similarities and fundamental differences in CCR control mechanisms between the oral pathogen S. mutans and the oral commensal S. gordonii that may eventually be exploited to enhance the competitiveness of health-associated commensals in oral biofilms.
PMCID: PMC3067331  PMID: 21239541
5.  Concentration-dependent repression of the soluble and membrane components of the Streptococcus mutans phosphoenolpyruvate: sugar phosphotransferase system by glucose. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1989;171(6):2942-2948.
Growth of Streptococcus mutans Ingbritt in continuous culture (pH 7.0, dilution rate of 0.1 h-1) at medium glucose concentrations above 2.6 mM resulted in repression of the sugar-specific membrane components, enzyme IIGlc (EIIGlc) and EIIMan, of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS). In one experiment, significant repression (27-fold) was observed with 73 mM glucose when the glycolytic capacity of the cells was reduced by only 2-fold and when the culture was still glucose limited. In a more comprehensive experiment in which cells were grown in continuous culture at eight glucose concentrations from 2.6 to 304 mM, in addition to repression of specific EII activities for glucose, mannose, 2-deoxyglucose, and fructose, synthesis of the general protein, EI, was repressed at all glucose levels above 2.6 mM to a maximum of 4-fold at 304 mM glucose when the culture was growing with excess glucose (i.e., nitrogen limited). The other PTS general protein, HPr, was less sensitive to the exogenous glucose level but was nevertheless repressed fourfold under glucose-excess conditions. The Km for glucose for EIIGlc increased from 0.22 mM during growth at 3.6 mM glucose (glucose limited) to 0.48 mM at 271 mM glucose (glucose excess). The shift from heterofermentation to homofermentation during growth with increasing glucose levels suggests the involvement of glycolytic intermediates, ATP, or another high-energy phosphate metabolite in regulation of the synthesis of the PTS components in S. mutans.
PMCID: PMC209998  PMID: 2722738
6.  Utilization of Lactose and Galactose by Streptococcus mutans: Transport, Toxicity, and Carbon Catabolite Repression▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(9):2434-2444.
Abundant in milk and other dairy products, lactose is considered to have an important role in oral microbial ecology and can contribute to caries development in both adults and young children. To better understand the metabolism of lactose and galactose by Streptococcus mutans, the major etiological agent of human tooth decay, a genetic analysis of the tagatose-6-phosphate (lac) and Leloir (gal) pathways was performed in strain UA159. Deletion of each gene in the lac operon caused various alterations in expression of a PlacA-cat promoter fusion and defects in growth on either lactose (lacA, lacB, lacF, lacE, and lacG), galactose (lacA, lacB, lacD, and lacG) or both sugars (lacA, lacB, and lacG). Failure to grow in the presence of galactose or lactose by certain lac mutants appeared to arise from the accumulation of intermediates of galactose metabolism, particularly galatose-6-phosphate. The glucose- and lactose-PTS permeases, EIIMan and EIILac, respectively, were shown to be the only effective transporters of galactose in S. mutans. Furthermore, disruption of manL, encoding EIIABMan, led to increased resistance to glucose-mediated CCR when lactose was used to induce the lac operon, but resulted in reduced lac gene expression in cells growing on galactose. Collectively, the results reveal a remarkably high degree of complexity in the regulation of lactose/galactose catabolism.
PMCID: PMC2863486  PMID: 20190045
7.  Substrate Specificity and Signal Transduction Pathways in the Glucose-Specific Enzyme II (EIIGlc) Component of the Escherichia coli Phosphotransferase System 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(16):4437-4442.
Escherichia coli adapted to glucose-limited chemostats contained mutations in ptsG resulting in V12G, V12F, and G13C substitutions in glucose-specific enzyme II (EIIGlc) and resulting in increased transport of glucose and methyl-α-glucoside. The mutations also resulted in faster growth on mannose and glucosamine in a PtsG-dependent manner. By use of enhanced growth on glucosamine for selection, four further sites were identified where substitutions caused broadened substrate specificity (G176D, A288V, G320S, and P384R). The altered amino acids include residues previously identified as changing the uptake of ribose, fructose, and mannitol. The mutations belonged to two classes. First, at two sites, changes affected transmembrane residues (A288V and G320S), probably altering sugar selectivity directly. More remarkably, the five other specificity mutations affected residues unlikely to be in transmembrane segments and were additionally associated with increased ptsG transcription in the absence of glucose. Increased expression of wild-type EIIGlc was not by itself sufficient for growth with other sugars. A model is proposed in which the protein conformation determining sugar accessibility is linked to transcriptional signal transduction in EIIGlc. The conformation of EIIGlc elicited by either glucose transport in the wild-type protein or permanently altered conformation in the second category of mutants results in altered signal transduction and interaction with a regulator, probably Mlc, controlling the transcription of pts genes.
PMCID: PMC94614  PMID: 10913076
8.  Genetic Analysis of the Functions and Interactions of Components of the LevQRST Signal Transduction Complex of Streptococcus mutans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17335.
Transcription of the genes for a fructan hydrolase (fruA) and a fructose/mannose sugar:phosphotransferase permease (levDEFG) in Streptococcus mutans is activated by a four-component regulatory system consisting of a histidine kinase (LevS), a response regulator (LevR) and two carbohydrate-binding proteins (LevQT). The expression of the fruA and levD operons was at baseline in a levQ mutant and substantially decreased in a levT null mutant, with lower expression with the cognate inducers fructose or mannose, but slightly higher expression in glucose or galactose. A strain expressing levQ with two point mutations (E170A/F292S) did not require inducers to activate gene expression and displayed altered levD expression when growing on various carbohydrates, including cellobiose. Linker-scanning (LS) mutagenesis was used to generate three libraries of mutants of levQ, levS and levT that displayed various levels of altered substrate specificity and of fruA/levD gene expression. The data support that LevQ and LevT are intimately involved in the sensing of carbohydrate signals, and that LevQ appears to be required for the integrity of the signal transduction complex, apparently by interacting with the sensor kinase LevS.
PMCID: PMC3043104  PMID: 21364902
9.  Regulation of the Bacillus subtilis GlcT Antiterminator Protein by Components of the Phosphotransferase System 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(20):5319-5326.
Bacillus subtilis utilizes glucose as the preferred source of carbon and energy. The sugar is transported into the cell by a specific permease of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) encoded by the ptsGHI operon. Expression of this operon is induced by glucose and requires the action of a positive transcription factor, the GlcT antiterminator protein. Glucose availability is sensed by glucose-specific enzyme II (EIIGlc), the product of ptsG. In the absence of inducer, the glucose permease negatively controls the activity of the antiterminator. The GlcT antiterminator has a modular structure. The isolated N-terminal part contains the RNA-binding protein and acts as a constitutively acting antiterminator. GlcT contains two PTS regulation domains (PRDs) at the C terminus. One (PRD-I) is the target of negative control exerted by EIIGlc. A conserved His residue (His-104 in GlcT) is involved in inactivation of GlcT in the absence of glucose. It was previously proposed that PRD-containing transcriptional antiterminators are phosphorylated and concomitantly inactivated in the absence of the substrate by their corresponding PTS permeases. The results obtained with B. subtilis glucose permease with site-specific mutations suggest, however, that the permease might modulate the phosphorylation reaction without being the phosphate donor.
PMCID: PMC107579  PMID: 9765562
10.  CcpA Regulates Central Metabolism and Virulence Gene Expression in Streptococcus mutans▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(7):2340-2349.
CcpA globally regulates transcription in response to carbohydrate availability in many gram-positive bacteria, but its role in Streptococcus mutans remains enigmatic. Using the fructan hydrolase (fruA) gene of S. mutans as a model, we demonstrated that CcpA plays a direct role in carbon catabolite repression (CCR). Subsequently, the expression of 170 genes was shown to be differently expressed (≥2-fold) in glucose-grown wild-type (UA159) and CcpA-deficient (TW1) strains (P ≤ 0.001). However, there were differences in expression of only 96 genes between UA159 and TW1 when cells were cultivated with the poorly repressing substrate galactose. Interestingly, 90 genes were expressed differently in wild-type S. mutans when glucose- and galactose-grown cells were compared, but the expression of 515 genes was altered in the CcpA-deficient strain in a similar comparison. Overall, our results supported the hypothesis that CcpA has a major role in CCR and regulation of gene expression but revealed that in S. mutans there is a substantial CcpA-independent network that regulates gene expression in response to the carbohydrate source. Based on the genetic studies, biochemical and physiological experiments demonstrated that loss of CcpA impacts the ability of S. mutans to transport and grow on selected sugars. Also, the CcpA-deficient strain displayed an enhanced capacity to produce acid from intracellular stores of polysaccharides, could grow faster at pH 5.5, and could acidify the environment more rapidly and to a greater extent than the parental strain. Thus, CcpA directly modulates the pathogenic potential of S. mutans through global control of gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2293215  PMID: 18223086
11.  Glucose phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphotransferase system of Streptococcus mutans GS5 studied by using cell-free extracts. 
Infection and Immunity  1984;44(2):486-492.
The glucose phosphotransferase system (PTS) of Streptococcus mutans GS5 has been partially characterized, using fractions derived from cells treated with the muramidase mutanolysin. Membranes retained functional PTS enzymes for the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphorylation of glucose, fructose, and mannose. This was confirmed by assaying membranes directly for enzyme I (EI) and enzyme IIglc (EIIglc) by employing specific phosphoryl-exchange reactions for each factor. Membranes prepared from glucose PTS- mutants, however, were either deficient in glucose phosphorylation or reflected the "leakiness" displayed by whole cells. Mutant membranes were unable to catalyze the glucose:glucose 6-phosphate transphosphorylation reaction, indicating a defective EIIglc in these fractions. Although total cellular EI activities in the mutant clones were about the same as that measured for the wild-type strain by employing the pyruvate:phosphoenolpyruvate phosphoryl-exchange reaction, mutant membranes were found to possess less than 10% of the specific EI activity of wild-type membranes. The cytoplasmic fractions of mutants, however, displayed markedly increased specific activities for this enzyme when compared with wild-type extracts. These results strongly suggest a molecular association of EI with a normal membrane protein, perhaps EIIglc, that is absent in mutants. This would explain the absence of fructose PTS activity in glucose PTS- mutant membranes despite the fact that whole cells of these clones are normal for this transport function.
PMCID: PMC263546  PMID: 6715047
12.  Involvement of an Inducible Fructose Phosphotransferase Operon in Streptococcus gordonii Biofilm Formation 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(21):6241-6254.
Oral streptococci, such as Streptococcus gordonii, are the predominant early colonizers that initiate biofilm formation on tooth surfaces. Investigation of an S. gordonii::Tn917-lac biofilm-defective mutant isolated by using an in vitro biofilm formation assay showed that the transposon insertion is near the 3′ end of an open reading frame (ORF) encoding a protein homologous to Streptococcus mutans FruK. Three genes, fruR, fruK, and fruI, were predicted to encode polypeptides that are part of the fructose phosphotransferase system (PTS) in S. gordonii. These proteins, FruR, FruK, and FruI, are homologous to proteins encoded by the inducible fruRKI operon of S. mutans. In S. mutans, FruR is a transcriptional repressor, FruK is a fructose-1-phosphate kinase, and FruI is the fructose-specific enzyme II (fructose permease) of the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sugar PTS. Reverse transcription-PCR confirmed that fruR, fruK, and fruI are cotranscribed as an operon in S. gordonii, and the transposon insertion in S. gordonii fruK::Tn917-lac resulted in a nonpolar mutation. Nonpolar inactivation of either fruK or fruI generated by allelic replacement resulted in a biofilm-defective phenotype, whereas a nonpolar mutant with an inactivated fruR gene retained the ability to form a biofilm. Expression of fruK, as measured by the β-galactosidase activity of the fruK::Tn917-lac mutant, was observed to be growth phase dependent and was enhanced when the mutant was grown in media with high levels of fructose, sucrose, xylitol, and human serum, indicating that the fructose PTS operon was fructose and xylitol inducible, similar to the S. mutans fructose PTS. The induction by fructose was inhibited by the presence of glucose, indicating that glucose is able to catabolite repress fruK expression. Nonpolar inactivation of the fruR gene in the fruK::Tn917-lac mutant resulted in a greater increase in β-galactosidase activity when the organism was grown in media supplemented with fructose, confirming that fruR is a transcriptional repressor of the fructose PTS operon. These results suggest that the regulation of fructose transport and metabolism in S. gordonii is intricately tied to carbon catabolite control and the ability to form biofilms. Carbon catabolite control, which modulates carbon flux in response to environmental nutritional levels, appears to be important in the regulation of bacterial biofilms.
PMCID: PMC219402  PMID: 14563858
13.  Global Transcriptional Analysis of Streptococcus mutans Sugar Transporters Using Microarrays▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(14):5049-5059.
The transport of carbohydrates by Streptococcus mutans is accomplished by the phosphoenolpyruvate-phosphotransferase system (PTS) and ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. To undertake a global transcriptional analysis of all S. mutans sugar transporters simultaneously, we used a whole-genome expression microarray. Global transcription profiles of S. mutans UA159 were determined for several monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose, and mannose), disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose, and trehalose), a β-glucoside (cellobiose), oligosaccharides (raffinose, stachyose, and maltotriose), and a sugar alcohol (mannitol). The results revealed that PTSs were responsible for transport of monosaccharides, disaccharides, β-glucosides, and sugar alcohol. Six PTSs were transcribed only if a specific sugar was present in the growth medium; thus, they were regulated at the transcriptional level. These included transporters for fructose, lactose, cellobiose, and trehalose and two transporters for mannitol. Three PTSs were repressed under all conditions tested. Interestingly, five PTSs were always highly expressed regardless of the sugar source used, presumably suggesting their availability for immediate uptake of most common dietary sugars (glucose, fructose, maltose, and sucrose). The ABC transporters were found to be specific for oligosaccharides, raffinose, stachyose, and isomaltosaccharides. Compared to the PTSs, the ABC transporters showed higher transcription under several tested conditions, suggesting that they might be transporting multiple substrates.
PMCID: PMC1951856  PMID: 17496079
Molecular microbiology  2008;70(1):197-208.
Streptococcus mutans is particularly well-adapted for high-affinity, high-capacity catabolism of multiple carbohydrate sources. S. mutans EIILev, a fructose/mannose permease encoded by the levDEFG genes, and fruA, which encodes a hydrolase that releases fructose from fructan polymers, are transcriptionally regulated by the LevQRST four-component signal transduction system. Here, we demonstrate that (1) levDEFGX are co-transcribed and the levE/F intergenic region is required for optimal expression of levFGX; (2) D-mannose is a potent inducer of the levD and fruA operons; (3) CcpA regulates levD expression in a carbohydrate-specific manner; (4) deletion of the genes for the fructose/mannose-EII enzymes of S. mutans (manL, fruI, and levD) enhances levD expression; (5) repression of the LevQRST regulon by EII enzymes depends on the presence of their substrates and requires LevR, but not LevQST; and (6) CcpA inhibits expression of the manL and frul genes to indirectly control the LevQRST regulon. Further, the manL, ccpA, frul/fruCD and levD gene products differentially exert control over the cellobiose and lactose operons. Collectively, the results reveal the existence of a global regulatory network in S. mutans that governs the utilization of non-preferred carbohydrates in response to the availability and source of multiple preferred carbohydrates.
PMCID: PMC2583961  PMID: 18699864
Sugar:phosphotransferase system; β-D-fructosidase; Catabolite repression; CcpA; Gene regulation
15.  Characteristics and cariogenicity of a fructanase-defective Streptococcus mutants strain. 
Infection and Immunity  1992;60(9):3673-3681.
Polymers of D-fructose produced by a variety of oral bacteria are believed to function as extracellular carbohydrate reserves. Degradation of these polysaccharides in plaque following exhaustion of dietary carbohydrates is thought to contribute to the extent and duration of the acid challenge to the tooth surface and thus to the initiation and progression of dental caries. Streptococcus mutans produces a fructanase, the product of the fruA gene, which is capable of degrading beta(2,6)- and beta(2,1)-linked fructans that are commonly synthesized by dental plaque microorganisms. To evaluate the role of the FruA protein in exopolysaccharide metabolism and to assess the contribution of this enzyme to the pathogenic potential of S. mutans, a fructanase-deficient strain of S. mutans was constructed. Inactivation of a cloned fruA gene was accomplished in Escherichia coli by using a mini-Mu dE transposon, and then an isogenic mutant of S. mutans UA159 was constructed by allelic exchange. Successful inactivation of fruA was confirmed through the use of biochemical assays, Western blotting (immunoblotting) with anti-recombinant FruA antisera, and Southern hybridization. The data indicated that FruA was the only fructan hydrolase produced by S. mutans UA159. Inactivation of fruA had no significant effects on glucosyltransferase or fructosyltransferase activity. In the rat caries model using animals fed a high-sucrose diet and ad libitum, there were no significant differences in the number or severity of smooth surface, sulcal, or root caries elicited by the fruA mutant and the wild-type organism.
PMCID: PMC257376  PMID: 1500176
16.  Analysis of cis- and trans-Acting Factors Involved in Regulation of the Streptococcus mutans Fructanase Gene (fruA) 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(1):126-133.
There are two primary levels of control of the expression of the fructanase gene (fruA) of Streptococcus mutans: induction by levan, inulin, or sucrose and repression in the presence of glucose and other readily metabolized sugars. The goals of this study were to assess the functionality of putative cis-acting regulatory elements and to begin to identify the trans-acting factors involved in induction and catabolite repression of fruA. The fruA promoter and its derivatives generated by deletions and/or site-directed mutagenesis were fused to a promoterless chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene as a reporter, and strains carrying the transcriptional fusions were then analyzed for CAT activities in response to growth on various carbon sources. A dyadic sequence, ATGACA(TC)TGTCAT, located at −72 to −59 relative to the transcription initiation site was shown to be essential for expression of fruA. Inactivation of the genes that encode fructose-specific enzymes II resulted in elevated expression from the fruA promoter, suggesting negative regulation of fruA expression by the fructose phosphotransferase system. Mutagenesis of a terminator-like structure located in the 165-base 5′ untranslated region of the fruA mRNA or insertional inactivation of antiterminator genes revealed that antitermination was not a mechanism controlling induction or repression of fruA, although the untranslated leader mRNA may play a role in optimal expression of fructanase. Deletion or mutation of a consensus catabolite response element alleviated glucose repression of fruA, but interestingly, inactivation of the ccpA gene had no discernible effect on catabolite repression of fruA. Accumulating data suggest that expression of fruA is regulated by a mechanism that has several unique features that distinguish it from archetypical polysaccharide catabolic operons of other gram-positive bacteria.
PMCID: PMC134753  PMID: 11741852
17.  Uptake and Metabolism of N-Acetylglucosamine and Glucosamine by Streptococcus mutans 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5053-5067.
Glucosamine and N-acetylglucosamine are among the most abundant sugars on the planet, and their introduction into the oral cavity via the diet and host secretions, and through bacterial biosynthesis, provides oral biofilm bacteria with a source of carbon, nitrogen, and energy. In this study, we demonstrated that the dental caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans possesses an inducible system for the metabolism of N-acetylglucosamine and glucosamine. These amino sugars are transported by the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS), with the glucose/mannose enzyme II permease encoded by manLMN playing a dominant role. Additionally, a previously uncharacterized gene product encoded downstream of the manLMN operon, ManO, was shown to influence the efficiency of uptake and growth on N-acetylglucosamine and, to a lesser extent, glucosamine. A transcriptional regulator, designated NagR, was able to bind the promoter regions in vitro, and repress the expression in vivo, of the nagA and nagB genes, encoding N-acetylglucosamine-6-phosphate deacetylase and glucosamine-6-phosphate deaminase, respectively. The binding activity of NagR could be inhibited by glucosamine-6-phosphate in vitro. Importantly, in contrast to the case with certain other Firmicutes, the gene for de novo synthesis of glucosamine-6-phosphate in S. mutans, glmS, was also shown to be regulated by NagR, and NagR could bind the glmS promoter region in vitro. Finally, metabolism of these amino sugars by S. mutans resulted in the production of significant quantities of ammonia, which can neutralize cytoplasmic pH and increase acid tolerance, thus contributing to enhanced persistence and pathogenic potential.
PMCID: PMC4135778  PMID: 24928869
18.  Seryl-phosphorylated HPr Regulates CcpA-Independent Carbon Catabolite Repression in Conjunction with PTS Permeases in Streptococcus mutans 
Molecular microbiology  2010;75(5):1145-1158.
Carbohydrate catabolite repression (CCR) in Streptococcus mutans does not require CcpA and is exerted through a network of phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sugar:phosphotransferase system (PTS) permeases. To probe the molecular mechanisms of CCR in S. mutans, the effects of various ptsH (HPr) and hprK (HPr kinase/phosphatase) mutations on growth and CCR were evaluated. An hprKV265F mutation, which enhanced phosphorylation of HPr at Ser46, inhibited growth on multiple PTS sugars. A ptsHS46A mutation reversed the effects of hprKV265F in most cases. A strain carrying a ptsHS46D mutation, which mimics HPr(Ser-P), presented with more severe growth defects than the hprKV265F mutant. The hprKV265F mutant displayed reduced expression of the fruA and levD operons, a phenotype reversible by the introduction of the ptsHS46A mutation. The effects of the hprKV265F mutation on fruA and levD expression were independent of CcpA, but dependent on ManL (IIABMan) and, to a lesser extent, on the FruI (IIABCFru), in a sugar-specific manner. The hprKV265F mutation inhibited growth on cellobiose and lactose, but only the transcription of the cel operon was decreased. Thus, in S. mutans, serine-phosphorylated HPr functions in concert with particular PTS permeases to prioritize carbohydrate utilization through modulation of sugar transport activity and the transcription of catabolic operons.
PMCID: PMC2927710  PMID: 20487301
Catabolite repression; HPr; Carbohydrate transport; Biofilm; Virulence
19.  Cell Density Modulates Acid Adaptation in Streptococcus mutans: Implications for Survival in Biofilms 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(23):6875-6884.
Streptococcus mutans normally colonizes dental biofilms and is regularly exposed to continual cycles of acidic pH during ingestion of fermentable dietary carbohydrates. The ability of S. mutans to survive at low pH is an important virulence factor in the pathogenesis of dental caries. Despite a few studies of the acid adaptation mechanism of this organism, little work has focused on the acid tolerance of S. mutans growing in high-cell-density biofilms. It is unknown whether biofilm growth mode or high cell density affects acid adaptation by S. mutans. This study was initiated to examine the acid tolerance response (ATR) of S. mutans biofilm cells and to determine the effect of cell density on the induction of acid adaptation. S. mutans BM71 cells were first grown in broth cultures to examine acid adaptation associated with growth phase, cell density, carbon starvation, and induction by culture filtrates. The cells were also grown in a chemostat-based biofilm fermentor for biofilm formation. Adaptation of biofilm cells to low pH was established in the chemostat by the acid generated from excess glucose metabolism, followed by a pH 3.5 acid shock for 3 h. Both biofilm and planktonic cells were removed to assay percentages of survival. The results showed that S. mutans BM71 exhibited a log-phase ATR induced by low pH and a stationary-phase acid resistance induced by carbon starvation. Cell density was found to modulate acid adaptation in S. mutans log-phase cells, since pre-adapted cells at a higher cell density or from a dense biofilm displayed significantly higher resistance to the killing pH than the cells at a lower cell density. The log-phase ATR could also be induced by a neutralized culture filtrate collected from a low-pH culture, suggesting that the culture filtrate contained an extracellular induction component(s) involved in acid adaptation in S. mutans. Heat or proteinase treatment abolished the induction by the culture filtrate. The results also showed that mutants defective in the comC, -D, or -E genes, which encode a quorum sensing system essential for cell density-dependent induction of genetic competence, had a diminished log-phase ATR. Addition of synthetic competence stimulating peptide (CSP) to the comC mutant restored the ATR. This study demonstrated that cell density and biofilm growth mode modulated acid adaptation in S. mutans, suggesting that optimal development of acid adaptation in this organism involves both low pH induction and cell-cell communication.
PMCID: PMC95529  PMID: 11698377
20.  Positive regulation of the pts operon of Escherichia coli: genetic evidence for a signal transduction mechanism. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1991;173(2):727-733.
The pts operon of Escherichia coli is composed of the genes ptsH, ptsI, and crr, which code for three proteins of the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphotransferase system (PTS): the HPr, enzyme I (EI), and EIIIGlc proteins, respectively. These three genes are organized in a complex operon in which the major part of expression of the distal gene, crr, is initiated from a promoter region within ptsI. Expression from the promoter region of the ptsH and ptsI genes has been studied in vivo by using gene fusions with lacZ. Transcription from this promoter region is under the positive control of catabolite activator protein (CAP)-cyclic AMP (cAMP) and is also enhanced during growth in the presence of glucose (a PTS substrate). This report describes a genetic characterization of the mechanism by which growth on glucose causes transcriptional stimulation of the pts operon. This regulation is dependent on transport through the glucose-specific permease of the PTS, EIIGlc. Our results strongly suggest that transcriptional regulation of the pts operon is the consequence of an increase in the level of unphosphorylated EIIGlc which is produced during glucose transport. Furthermore, overproduction of EIIGlc in the absence of transport was found to stimulate expression of the pts operon. We also observed that CAP-cAMP could cause stimulation independently of the EIIGlc and that glucose could activate in the absence of cAMP in a strain overproducing EIIGlc. Our results indicate that glucose acts like an environmental signal through a mechanism of signal transduction. A sequence similarity between the C terminus of EIIGlc and the consensus of transmitter modules of the sensor proteins defined by E. C. Kofoid and J. S. Parkinson (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85:4981-4985, 1988) suggests that EIIGlc might have properties in common with the sensors of the two-component systems.
PMCID: PMC207065  PMID: 1898933
21.  Mlc of Thermus thermophilus: a Glucose-Specific Regulator for a Glucose/Mannose ABC Transporter in the Absence of the Phosphotransferase System 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(18):6561-6571.
We report the presence of Mlc in a thermophilic bacterium. Mlc is known as a global regulator of sugar metabolism in gram-negative enteric bacteria that is controlled by sequestration to a glucose-transporting EIIGlc of the phosphotransferase system (PTS). Since thermophilic bacteria do not possess PTS, Mlc in Thermus thermophilus must be differently controlled. DNA sequence alignments between Mlc from T. thermophilus (MlcTth) and Mlc from E. coli (MlcEco) revealed that MlcTth conserved five residues of the glucose-binding motif of glucokinases. Here we show that MlcTth is not a glucokinase but is indeed able to bind glucose (KD = 20 μM), unlike MlcEco. We found that mlc of T. thermophilus is the first gene within an operon encoding an ABC transporter for glucose and mannose, including a glucose/mannose-binding protein and two permeases. malK1, encoding the cognate ATP-hydrolyzing subunit, is located elsewhere on the chromosome. The system transports glucose at 70°C with a Km of 0.15 μM and a Vmax of 4.22 nmol per min per ml at an optical density (OD) of 1. MlcTth negatively regulates itself and the entire glucose/mannose ABC transport system operon but not malK1, with glucose acting as an inducer. MalK1 is shared with the ABC transporter for trehalose, maltose, sucrose, and palatinose (TMSP). Mutants lacking malK1 do not transport either glucose or maltose. The TMSP transporter is also able to transport glucose with a Km of 1.4 μM and a Vmax of 7.6 nmol per min per ml at an OD of 1, but it does not transport mannose.
PMCID: PMC1595481  PMID: 16952948
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.  Comprehensive Mutational Analysis of Sucrose-Metabolizing Pathways in Streptococcus mutans Reveals Novel Roles for the Sucrose Phosphotransferase System Permease 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(4):833-843.
Sucrose is perhaps the most efficient carbohydrate for the promotion of dental caries in humans, and the primary caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans encodes multiple enzymes involved in the metabolism of this disaccharide. Here, we engineered a series of mutants lacking individual or combinations of sucrolytic pathways to understand the control of sucrose catabolism and to determine whether as-yet-undisclosed pathways for sucrose utilization were present in S. mutans. Growth phenotypes indicated that gtfBCD (encoding glucan exopolysaccharide synthases), ftf (encoding the fructan exopolysaccharide synthase), and the scrAB pathway (sugar-phosphotransferase system [PTS] permease and sucrose-6-PO4 hydrolase) constitute the majority of the sucrose-catabolizing activity; however, mutations in any one of these genes alone did not affect planktonic growth on sucrose. The multiple-sugar metabolism pathway (msm) contributed minimally to growth on sucrose. Notably, a mutant lacking gtfBC, which cannot produce water-insoluble glucan, displayed improved planktonic growth on sucrose. Meanwhile, loss of scrA led to growth stimulation on fructooligosaccharides, due in large part to increased expression of the fruAB (fructanase) operon. Using the LevQRST four-component signal transduction system as a model for carbohydrate-dependent gene expression in strains lacking extracellular sucrases, a PlevD-cat (EIIALev) reporter was activated by pulsing with sucrose. Interestingly, ScrA was required for activation of levD expression by sucrose through components of the LevQRST complex, but not for activation by the cognate LevQRST sugars fructose or mannose. Sucrose-dependent catabolite repression was also evident in strains containing an intact sucrose PTS. Collectively, these results reveal a novel regulatory circuitry for the control of sucrose catabolism, with a central role for ScrA.
PMCID: PMC3562097  PMID: 23222725
24.  Genetic regulation of fructosyltransferase in Streptococcus mutans. 
Infection and Immunity  1994;62(4):1241-1251.
Streptococcus mutans possesses several extracellular sucrose-metabolizing enzymes which have been implicated as important virulence factors in dental caries. This study was initiated to investigate the genetic regulation of one of these enzymes, the extracellular fructosyltransferase (Ftf). Fusions were constructed with the region upstream of the S. mutans GS5 Ftf gene (ftf) and a promoterless chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene. The fusions were integrated at a remote site in the chromosome, and transcriptional activity in response to the addition of various carbohydrates to the growth medium was measured. A significant increase in CAT activity was observed when glucose-grown cells were shifted to sucrose-containing medium. Sucrose-induced expression was repressed immediately upon addition of phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system sugars to the growth media. Deletion analysis of the ftf upstream region revealed that an inverted repeat structure was involved in the control of ftf expression in response to carbohydrate. However, the control of the level of ftf transcription appeared to involve a region distinct from that mediating carbohydrate regulation. CAT gene fusions also were constructed with the ftf upstream region from S. mutans V403, a fructan-hyperproducing strain which synthesizes increased levels of Ftf. Sequence analysis of the upstream ftf region in this strain revealed several nucleotide sequence changes which were associated with high-level ftf expression. Comparison of the GS5 and V403 ftf expression patterns suggested the presence of a trans-acting factor(s) involved in modulation of ftf expression in response to carbohydrate. This factor(s) was either absent or altered in V403, resulting in the inability of this organism to respond to the presence of carbohydrate. The sequences of the ftf regions from three additional fructan-hyperproducing strains were determined and compared with that of V403. Only one strain displayed nucleotide changes similar to those of V403. Two additional strains did not have these changes, suggesting that several mechanisms for up-regulation of ftf expression exist.
PMCID: PMC186265  PMID: 8132331
25.  The DeoR-type transcriptional regulator SugR acts as a repressor for genes encoding the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) in Corynebacterium glutamicum 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:104.
The major uptake system responsible for the transport of fructose, glucose, and sucrose in Corynebacterium glutamicum ATCC 13032 is the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS). The genes encoding PTS components, namely ptsI, ptsH, and ptsF belong to the fructose-PTS gene cluster, whereas ptsG and ptsS are located in two separate regions of the C. glutamicum genome. Due to the localization within and adjacent to the fructose-PTS gene cluster, two genes coding for DeoR-type transcriptional regulators, cg2118 and sugR, are putative candidates involved in the transcriptional regulation of the fructose-PTS cluster genes.
Four transcripts of the extended fructose-PTS gene cluster that comprise the genes sugR-cg2116, ptsI, cg2118-fruK-ptsF, and ptsH, respectively, were characterized. In addition, it was shown that transcription of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is enhanced during growth on glucose or fructose when compared to acetate. Subsequently, the two genes sugR and cg2118 encoding for DeoR-type regulators were mutated and PTS gene transcription was found to be strongly enhanced in the presence of acetate only in the sugR deletion mutant. The SugR regulon was further characterized by microarray hybridizations using the sugR mutant and its parental strain, revealing that also the PTS genes ptsG and ptsS belong to this regulon. Binding of purified SugR repressor protein to a 21 bp sequence identified the SugR binding site as an AC-rich motif. The two experimentally identified SugR binding sites in the fructose-PTS gene cluster are located within or downstream of the mapped promoters, typical for transcriptional repressors. Effector studies using electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) revealed the fructose PTS-specific metabolite fructose-1-phosphate (F-1-P) as a highly efficient, negative effector of the SugR repressor, acting in the micromolar range. Beside F-1-P, other sugar-phosphates like fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (F-1,6-P) and glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P) also negatively affect SugR-binding, but in millimolar concentrations.
In C. glutamicum ATCC 13032 the DeoR-type regulator SugR acts as a pleiotropic transcriptional repressor of all described PTS genes. Thus, in contrast to most DeoR-type repressors described, SugR is able to act also on the transcription of the distantly located genes ptsG and ptsS of C. glutamicum. Transcriptional repression of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is observed during growth on acetate and transcription is derepressed in the presence of the PTS sugars glucose and fructose. This derepression of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is mainly modulated by the negative effector F-1-P, but reduced sensitivity to the other effectors, F-1,6-P or G-6-P might cause differential transcriptional regulation of genes of the general part of the PTS (ptsI, ptsH) and associated genes encoding sugar-specific functions (ptsF, ptsG, ptsS).
PMCID: PMC2222622  PMID: 18005413

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