Virulent biofilms are responsible for a range of infections, including oral diseases. All biofilms harbor a microbial-derived extracellular-matrix. The exopolysaccharides (EPS) formed on tooth-pellicle and bacterial surfaces provide binding sites for microorganisms; eventually the accumulated EPS enmeshes microbial cells. The metabolic activity of the bacteria within this matrix leads to acidification of the milieu. We explored the mechanisms through which the Streptococcus mutans-produced EPS-matrix modulates the three-dimensional (3D) architecture and the population shifts during morphogenesis of biofilms on a saliva-coated-apatitic surface using a mixed-bacterial species system. Concomitantly, we examined whether the matrix influences the development of pH-microenvironments within intact-biofilms using a novel 3D in situ pH-mapping technique. Data reveal that the production of the EPS-matrix helps to create spatial heterogeneities by forming an intricate network of exopolysaccharide-enmeshed bacterial-islets (microcolonies) through localized cell-to-matrix interactions. This complex 3D architecture creates compartmentalized acidic and EPS-rich microenvironments throughout the biofilm, which triggers the dominance of pathogenic S. mutans within a mixed-species system. The establishment of a 3D-matrix and EPS-enmeshed microcolonies were largely mediated by the S. mutans gtfB/gtfC genes, expression of which was enhanced in the presence of Actinomyces naeslundii and Streptococcus oralis. Acidic pockets were found only in the interiors of bacterial-islets that are protected by EPS, which impedes rapid neutralization by buffer (pH 7.0). As a result, regions of low pH (<5.5) were detected at specific locations along the surface of attachment. Resistance to chlorhexidine was enhanced in cells within EPS-microcolony complexes compared to those outside such structures within the biofilm. Our results illustrate the critical interaction between matrix architecture and pH heterogeneity in the 3D environment. The formation of structured acidic-microenvironments in close proximity to the apatite-surface is an essential factor associated with virulence in cariogenic-biofilms. These observations may have relevance beyond the mouth, as matrix is inherent to all biofilms.
Virulent biofilms formed on surfaces are associated with many human infections. The disease dental caries, expressed as cavities, is a prime example of the consequences arising from interactions between bacteria and sugars on tooth-surfaces. When Streptococcus mutans metabolize sugars, they produce a glue-like polymer termed glucan, helping them to adhere firmly to teeth. Glucan is also formed on bacterial surfaces in the mouth, and will accumulate and enmesh additional microorganisms creating the gelatinous formation known as dental plaque-biofilm. We found unique islets of bacteria within these biofilms, particularly close to the tooth-surface, providing safe havens in which bacteria thrive and produce acids that erode teeth. One intriguing mystery is why acids accumulate on the tooth-surface when there is an abundance of neutral-pH saliva surrounding the teeth. We found that bacterial-islets are particularly protected by glucan, which retards neutralization. We noticed that, within biofilms, the interiors of these islets are acidic, where only acid-tolerant bacteria can prosper, ensuring continued localized acid production. Our study demonstrates that construction of biofilms mediated by glucans forms complex 3D architectures, creating a variety of acidic-microenvironments that are essential for virulence expression. These results may aid in the development of enhanced methods to modulate biofilm formation.
In bacteria, copper homeostasis is closely monitored to ensure proper cellular functions while avoiding cell damage. Most Gram-positive bacteria utilize the copYABZ operon for copper homeostasis, where copA and copB encode copper-transporting P-type ATPases, whereas copY and copZ regulate the expression of the cop operon. Streptococcus mutans is a biofilm-forming oral pathogen that harbors a putative copper-transporting copYAZ operon. Here, we characterized the role of copYAZ operon in the physiology of S. mutans and delineated the mechanisms of copper-induced toxicity in this bacterium. We observed that copper induced toxicity in S. mutans cells by generating oxidative stress and disrupting their membrane potential. Deletion of the copYAZ operon in S. mutans strain UA159 resulted in reduced cell viability under copper, acid, and oxidative stress relative to the viability of the wild type under these conditions. Furthermore, the ability of S. mutans to form biofilms and develop genetic competence was impaired under copper stress. Briefly, copper stress significantly reduced cell adherence and total biofilm biomass, concomitantly repressing the transcription of the gtfB, gtfC, gtfD, gbpB, and gbpC genes, whose products have roles in maintaining the structural and/or functional integrity of the S. mutans biofilm. Furthermore, supplementation with copper or loss of copYAZ resulted in significant reductions in transformability and in the transcription of competence-associated genes. Copper transport assays revealed that the ΔcopYAZ strain accrued significantly large amounts of intracellular copper compared with the amount of copper accumulation in the wild-type strain, thereby demonstrating a role for CopYAZ in the copper efflux of S. mutans. The complementation of the CopYAZ system restored copper expulsion, membrane potential, and stress tolerance in the copYAZ-null mutant. Taking these results collectively, we have established the function of the S. mutans CopYAZ system in copper export and have further expanded knowledge on the importance of copper homeostasis and the CopYAZ system in modulating streptococcal physiology, including stress tolerance, membrane potential, genetic competence, and biofilm formation.
S. mutans is best known for its role in the initiation and progression of human dental caries, one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. S. mutans is also implicated in bacterial endocarditis, a life-threatening inflammation of the heart valve. The core virulence factors of S. mutans include its ability to produce and sustain acidic conditions and to form a polysaccharide-encased biofilm that provides protection against environmental insults. Here, we demonstrate that the addition of copper and/or deletion of copYAZ (the copper homeostasis system) have serious implications in modulating biofilm formation, stress tolerance, and genetic transformation in S. mutans. Manipulating the pathways affected by copper and the copYAZ system may help to develop potential therapeutics to prevent S. mutans infection in and beyond the oral cavity.
Streptococcus mutans is a major cariogenic bacterium. It has adapted to the biofilm lifestyle, which is essential for pathogenesis of dental caries. We aimed to identify small molecules that can inhibit cariogenic S. mutans and to discover lead structures that could give rise to therapeutics for dental caries. In this study, we screened a focused small-molecule library of 506 compounds. Eight small molecules which inhibited S. mutans at a concentration of 4 μM or less but did not affect cell growth or biofilm formation of commensal bacteria, represented by Streptococcus sanguinis and Streptococcus gordonii, in monospecies biofilms were identified. The active compounds share similar structural properties, which are characterized by a 2-aminoimidazole (2-AI) or 2-aminobenzimidazole (2-ABI) subunit. In multispecies biofilm models, the most active compound also inhibited cell survival and biofilm formation of S. mutans but did not affect commensal streptococci. This inhibitor downregulated the expression of six biofilm-associated genes, ftf, pac, relA, comDE, gbpB, and gtfB, in planktonic S. mutans cells, while it downregulated the expression of only ftf, pac, and relA in the biofilm cells of S. mutans. The most potent compound also inhibited production of two key adhesins of S. mutans, antigen I/II and glucosyltransferase (GTF). However, the compound did not alter the expression of the corresponding genes in both S. sanguinis and S. gordonii, indicating that it possesses a selective inhibitory activity against S. mutans.
The present study was focused on evaluating the potential of Emblica officinalis against cariogenic properties of Streptococcus mutans, a causative microorganism for caries. The effect of crude extract and ethanolic fraction from Emblica officinalis fruit was analysed against S. mutans. The sub-MIC concentrations of crude and ethanolic fraction of E. officinalis were evaluated for its cariogenic properties such as acid production, biofilm formation, cell-surface hydrophobicity, glucan production, sucrose-dependent and independent adherence. Its effect on biofilm architecture was also investigated with the help of confocal and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Moreover, expression of genes involved in biofilm formation was also studied by quantitative RT- PCR. This study showed 50% reduction in adherence at concentrations 156 µg/ and 312.5 µg/ml of crude extract and ethanolic fraction respectively. However, the biofilm was reduced to 50% in the presence of crude extract (39.04 µg/ml) and ethanolic fraction (78.08 µg/ml). Furthermore, effective reduction was observed in the glucan synthesis and cell surface hydrophobicity. The qRT-PCR revealed significant suppression of the genes involved in its virulence. Confocal and scanning electron microscopy clearly depicted the obliteration of biofilm structure with reference to control. Hence, this study reveals the potential of E. officinalis fruit extracts as an alternative and complementary medicine for dental caries by inhibiting the virulence factors of Streptococcus mutans.
Trans-trans farnesol (tt-farnesol) is a bioactive sesquiterpene alcohol commonly found in propolis (a beehive product) and citrus fruits, which disrupts the ability of Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) to form virulent biofilms. In this study, we investigated whether tt-farnesol affects cell-membrane function, acid production and/or acid tolerance by planktonic cells and biofilms of S. mutans UA159. Furthermore, the influence of the agent on S. mutans gene expression and ability to form biofilms in the presence of other oral bacteria (Streptococcus oralis (S. oralis) 35037 and Actinomyces naeslundii (A. naeslundii) 12104) was also examined. In general, tt-farnesol (1 mmol-L−1) significantly increased the membrane proton permeability and reduced glycolytic activity of S. mutans in the planktonic state and in biofilms (P<0.05). Moreover, topical applications of 1 mmol-L−1
tt-farnesol twice daily (1 min exposure/treatment) reduced biomass accumulation and prevented ecological shifts towards S. mutans dominance within mixed-species biofilms after introduction of 1% sucrose. S. oralis (a non-cariogenic organism) became the major species after treatments with tt-farnesol, whereas vehicle-treated biofilms contained mostly S. mutans (>90% of total bacterial population). However, the agent did not affect significantly the expression of S. mutans genes involved in acidogenicity, acid tolerance or polysaccharide synthesis in the treated biofilms. Our data indicate that tt-farnesol may affect the competitiveness of S. mutans in a mixed-species environment by primarily disrupting the membrane function and physiology of this bacterium. This naturally occurring terpenoid could be a potentially useful adjunctive agent to the current anti-biofilm/anti-caries chemotherapeutic strategies.
trans-trans farnesol; acid production; acid tolerance; biofilms; proton permeability; Streptococcus mutans
α-Mangostin (αMG) has been reported to be an effective antimicrobial agent against planktonic cells of Streptococcus mutans, a biofilm-forming and acid-producing cariogenic organism. However, its anti-biofilm activity remains to be determined. We examined whether αMG, a xanthone purified from Garcinia mangostana L grown in Vietnam, disrupts the development, acidogenicity, and/or the mechanical stability of S. mutans biofilms. Treatment regimens simulating those experienced clinically (twice-daily, 60 s exposure each) were used to assess the bioactivity of αMG using a saliva-coated hydroxyapatite (sHA) biofilm model. Topical applications of early-formed biofilms with αMG (150 µM) effectively reduced further biomass accumulation and disrupted the 3D architecture of S. mutans biofilms. Biofilms treated with αMG had lower amounts of extracellular insoluble and intracellular iodophilic polysaccharides (30–45%) than those treated with vehicle control (P<0.05), while the number of viable bacterial counts was unaffected. Furthermore, αMG treatments significantly compromised the mechanical stability of the biofilm, facilitating its removal from the sHA surface when subjected to a constant shear stress of 0.809 N/m2 (>3-fold biofilm detachment from sHA vs. vehicle-treated biofilms; P<0.05). Moreover, acid production by S. mutans biofilms was disrupted following αMG treatments (vs. vehicle-control, P<0.05). The activity of enzymes associated with glucan synthesis, acid production, and acid tolerance (glucosyltransferases B and C, phosphotransferase-PTS system, and F1F0-ATPase) were significantly inhibited by αMG. The expression of manL, encoding a key component of the mannose PTS, and gtfB were slightly repressed by αMG treatment (P<0.05), while the expression of atpD (encoding F-ATPase) and gtfC genes was unaffected. Hence, this study reveals that brief exposures to αMG can disrupt the development and structural integrity of S. mutans biofilms, at least in part via inhibition of key enzymatic systems associated with exopolysaccharide synthesis and acidogenicity. αMG could be an effective anti-virulence additive for the control and/or removal of cariogenic biofilms.
Streptococcus mutans is known as a key causative agent of dental caries. It metabolizes dietary carbohydrate to produce acids which reduce the environmental pH leading to tooth demineralization. The ability of this bacterium to tolerate acids coupled with acid production, allows its effective colonization in the oral cavity leading to the establishment of highly cariogenic plaque. For this reason, S. mutans is the only bacterium found in significantly higher numbers than other bacteria in the dental plaque. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of crude extract and methanolic fraction of Z. officinale against S. mutans virulence properties.
We investigated in vitro and in vivo activity of crude extract and methanolic fraction at sub- MIC levels against cariogenic properties of S. mutans. We found that these extracts strongly inhibited a variety of virulence properties which are critical for its pathogenesis. The biofilm formation in S. mutans was found to be reduced during critical growth phases. Furthermore, the glucan synthesis and adherence was also found to be inhibited. Nevertheless, the insoluble glucan synthesis and sucrose dependent adherence were apparently more reduced as compared to soluble glucan synthesis and sucrose- independent adherence. Biofilm architecture inspected with the help of confocal and scanning electron microscopy, showed dispersion of cells in the treated group as compared to the control. The Quantitative Real Time PCR (qRT-PCR) data had shown the down regulation of the virulence genes, which is believed to be one of the major reasons responsible for the observed reduction in the virulence properties. The incredible reduction of caries development was found in treated group of rats as compared to the untreated group which further validate our in vitro data.
The whole study concludes a prospective role of crude extract and methanolic fraction of Z. officinale in targeting complete array of cariogenic properties of S. mutans, thus reducing its pathogenesis. Hence, it may be strongly proposed as a putative anti- cariogenic agent.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0320-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Streptococcus mutans; qRT- PCR; Biofilm; Dental caries; Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; Glucosyltransferases; Dental plaque
Streptococcus pneumoniae persist in the human nasopharynx within organized biofilms. However, expansion to other tissues may cause severe infections such as pneumonia, otitis media, bacteremia, and meningitis, especially in children and the elderly. Bacteria within biofilms possess increased tolerance to antibiotics and are able to resist host defense systems. Bacteria within biofilms exhibit different physiology, metabolism, and gene expression profiles than planktonic cells. These differences underscore the need to identify alternative therapeutic targets and novel antimicrobial compounds that are effective against pneumococcal biofilms. In bacteria, DNA adenine methyltransferase (Dam) alters pathogenic gene expression and catalyzes the methylation of adenine in the DNA duplex and of macromolecules during the activated methyl cycle (AMC). In pneumococci, AMC is involved in the biosynthesis of quorum sensing molecules that regulate competence and biofilm formation. In this study, we examine the effect of a small molecule Dam inhibitor, pyrimidinedione, on Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm formation and evaluate the changes in global gene expression within biofilms via microarray analysis. The effects of pyrimidinedione on in vitro biofilms were studied using a static microtiter plate assay, and the architecture of the biofilms was viewed using confocal and scanning electron microscopy. The cytotoxicity of pyrimidinedione was tested on a human middle ear epithelium cell line by CCK-8. In situ oligonucleotide microarray was used to compare the global gene expression of Streptococcus pneumoniae D39 within biofilms grown in the presence and absence of pyrimidinedione. Real-time RT-PCR was used to study gene expression. Pyrimidinedione inhibits pneumococcal biofilm growth in vitro in a concentration-dependent manner, but it does not inhibit planktonic cell growth. Confocal microscopy analysis revealed the absence of organized biofilms, where cell-clumps were scattered and attached to the bottom of the plate when cells were grown in the presence of pyrimidinedione. Scanning electron microscopy analysis demonstrated the absence of an extracellular polysaccharide matrix in pyrimidinedione-grown biofilms compared to control-biofilms. Pyrimidinedione also significantly inhibited MRSA, MSSA, and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilm growth in vitro. Furthermore, pyrimidinedione does not exhibit eukaryotic cell toxicity. In a microarray analysis, 56 genes were significantly up-regulated and 204 genes were significantly down-regulated. Genes involved in galactose metabolism were exclusively up-regulated in pyrimidinedione-grown biofilms. Genes related to DNA replication, cell division and the cell cycle, pathogenesis, phosphate-specific transport, signal transduction, fatty acid biosynthesis, protein folding, homeostasis, competence, and biofilm formation were down regulated in pyrimidinedione-grown biofilms. This study demonstrated that the small molecule Dam inhibitor, pyrimidinedione, inhibits pneumococcal biofilm growth in vitro at concentrations that do not inhibit planktonic cell growth and down regulates important metabolic-, virulence-, competence-, and biofilm-related genes. The identification of a small molecule (pyrimidinedione) with S. pneumoniae biofilm-inhibiting capabilities has potential for the development of new compounds that prevent biofilm formation.
Caries and periodontitis are important human diseases associated with formation of multi-species biofilms. The involved bacteria are intensively studied to understand the molecular basis of the interactions in such biofilms. This study established a basic in vitro single and mixed-species culture model for oral bacteria combining three complimentary methods. The setup allows a rapid screening for effects in the mutual species interaction. Furthermore, it is easy to handle, inexpensive, and reproducible.
Streptococcus mitis, S. salivarius and S. sanguinis, typical inhabitants of the healthy oral cavity, S. mutans as main carriogenic species, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Parvimonas micra, S. intermedius and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans as periodontitis-associated bacteria, were investigated for their biofilm forming ability. Different liquid growth media were evaluated. Safranin-staining allowed monitoring of biofilm formation under the chosen conditions. Viable counts and microscopy permitted investigation of biofilm behavior in mixed-species and transwell setups.
S. mitis, F. nucleatum, P. gingivalis and P. micra failed to form biofilm structures. S. mutans, S. sanguinis, S. intermedius and S. salivarius established abundant biofilm masses in CDM/sucrose. A. actinomycetemcomitans formed patchy monolayers. For in depth analysis S. mitis, S. mutans and A. actinomycetemcomitans were chosen, because i) they are representatives of the physiological-, cariogenic and periodontitis-associated bacterial flora, respectively and ii) their difference in their biofilm forming ability. Microscopic analysis confirmed the results of safranin staining. Investigation of two species combinations of S. mitis with either S. mutans or A. actinomycetemcomitans revealed bacterial interactions influencing biofilm mass, biofilm structure and cell viability.
This setup shows safranin staining, microscopic analysis and viable counts together are crucial for basic examination and evaluation of biofilms. Our experiment generated meaningful results, exemplified by the noted S. mitis influence, and allows a fast decision about the most important bacterial interactions which should be investigated in depth.
In some diseases, a very important role is played by the ability of bacteria to form multi-dimensional complex structure known as biofilm. The most common disease of the oral cavity, known as dental caries, is a top leader. Streptococcus mutans, one of the many etiological factors of dental caries, is a microorganism which is able to acquire new properties allowing for the expression of pathogenicity determinants determining its virulence in specific environmental conditions. Through the mechanism of adhesion to a solid surface, S. mutans is capable of colonizing the oral cavity and also of forming bacterial biofilm. Additional properties enabling S. mutans to colonize the oral cavity include the ability to survive in an acidic environment and specific interaction with other microorganisms colonizing this ecosystem. This review is an attempt to establish which characteristics associated with biofilm formation—virulence determinants of S. mutans—are responsible for the development of dental caries. In order to extend the knowledge of the nature of Streptococcus infections, an attempt to face the following problems will be made: Biofilm formation as a complex process of protein–bacterium interaction. To what extent do microorganisms of the cariogenic flora exemplified by S. mutans differ in virulence determinants “expression” from microorganisms of physiological flora? How does the environment of the oral cavity and its microorganisms affect the biofilm formation of dominant species? How do selected inhibitors affect the biofilm formation of cariogenic microorganisms?
Virtually all cells living in multicellular structures such as tissues and organs are encased in an extracellular matrix. One of the most important features of a biofilm is the extracellular polymeric substance that functions as a matrix, holding bacterial cells together. Yet very little is known about how the matrix forms or how matrix components encase bacteria during biofilm development. Pseudomonas aeruginosa forms environmentally and clinically relevant biofilms and is a paradigm organism for the study of biofilms. The extracellular polymeric substance of P. aeruginosa biofilms is an ill-defined mix of polysaccharides, nucleic acids, and proteins. Here, we directly visualize the product of the polysaccharide synthesis locus (Psl exopolysaccharide) at different stages of biofilm development. During attachment, Psl is anchored on the cell surface in a helical pattern. This promotes cell–cell interactions and assembly of a matrix, which holds bacteria in the biofilm and on the surface. Chemical dissociation of Psl from the bacterial surface disrupted the Psl matrix as well as the biofilm structure. During biofilm maturation, Psl accumulates on the periphery of 3-D-structured microcolonies, resulting in a Psl matrix-free cavity in the microcolony center. At the dispersion stage, swimming cells appear in this matrix cavity. Dead cells and extracellular DNA (eDNA) are also concentrated in the Psl matrix-free area. Deletion of genes that control cell death and autolysis affects the formation of the matrix cavity and microcolony dispersion. These data provide a mechanism for how P. aeruginosa builds a matrix and subsequently a cavity to free a portion of cells for seeding dispersal. Direct visualization reveals that Psl is a key scaffolding matrix component and opens up avenues for therapeutics of biofilm-related complications.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes life-threatening, persistent infections in cystic fibrosis patients, despite highly aggressive antimicrobial therapy. Persistence is due, in part, to the ability of these bacteria to form surface-associated communities (biofilms) enmeshed in an extracellular matrix. This matrix is a poorly defined mixture of protein, polysaccharide, and DNA. An understanding of the organization and composition of the biofilm matrix will assist in the development of therapeutics aimed at disrupting biofilms. Using reagents that specifically recognize the P. aeruginosa Psl exopolysaccharide, we visualized matrix formation in real time during a biofilm development cycle. This revealed a highly organized and coordinated assembly of both polysaccharide and DNA components of the matrix. At late stages of biofilm morphogenesis, a Psl-free matrix cavity, occupied with numerous motile cells, developed. Mutants with reduced cell lysis were unable to form the Psl matrix cavity, whereas those with elevated cell death and lysis formed a larger matrix cavity, leading to accelerated dispersion. We propose that programmed cell death and autolysis are critical for the proper timing of biofilm development and dispersion. The data indicate that Psl is a key scaffolding component of the biofilm matrix, a property that likely plays a critical role in P. aeruginosa persistence.
Microbial cell-cell interactions in the oral flora are believed to play an integral role in the development of dental plaque and ultimately, its pathogenicity. The effects of other species of oral bacteria on biofilm formation and virulence gene expression by Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiologic agent of dental caries, were evaluated using a dual-species biofilm model and RealTime-PCR analysis.
As compared to mono-species biofilms, biofilm formation by S. mutans was significantly decreased when grown with Streptococcus sanguinis, but was modestly increased when co-cultivated with Lactobacillus casei. Co-cultivation with S. mutans significantly enhanced biofilm formation by Streptococcus oralis and L. casei, as compared to the respective mono-species biofilms. RealTime-PCR analysis showed that expression of spaP (for multi-functional adhesin SpaP, a surface-associated protein that S. mutans uses to bind to the tooth surface in the absence of sucrose), gtfB (for glucosyltransferase B that synthesizes α1,6-linked glucan polymers from sucrose and starch carbohydrates) and gbpB (for surface-associated protein GbpB, which binds to the glucan polymers) was decreased significantly when S. mutans were co-cultivated with L. casei. Similar results were also found with expression of spaP and gbpB, but not gtfB, when S. mutans was grown in biofilms with S. oralis. Compared to mono-species biofilms, the expression of luxS in S. mutans co-cultivated with S. oralis or L. casei was also significantly decreased. No significant differences were observed in expression of the selected genes when S. mutans was co-cultivated with S. sanguinis.
These results suggest that the presence of specific oral bacteria differentially affects biofilm formation and virulence gene expression by S. mutans.
The association of specific bioactive flavonoids and terpenoids with fluoride can modulate the development of cariogenic biofilms by simultaneously affecting the synthesis of exopolysaccharides (EPS) and acid production by Streptococcus mutans, which enhanced the cariostatic effectiveness of fluoride in vivo. In the present study, we further investigated whether the biological actions of combinations of myricetin (flavonoid), tt-farnesol (terpenoid) and fluoride can influence the expression of specific genes of S. mutans within biofilms and their structural organization using real-time PCR and confocal fluorescence microscopy.
Twice-daily treatment (one-minute exposure) during biofilm formation affected the gene expression by S. mutans both at early (49-h) and later (97-h) stages of biofilm development. Biofilms treated with combination of agents displayed lower mRNA levels for gtfB and gtfD (associated with exopolysaccharides synthesis) and aguD (associated with S. mutans acid tolerance) than those treated with vehicle-control (p < 0.05). Furthermore, treatment with combination of agents markedly affected the structure-architecture of S. mutans biofilms by reducing the biovolume (biomass) and proportions of both EPS and bacterial cells across the biofilm depth, especially in the middle and outer layers (vs. vehicle-control, p < 0.05). The biofilms treated with combination of agents were also less acidogenic, and had reduced amounts of extracellular insoluble glucans and intracellular polysaccharides than vehicle-treated biofilms (p < 0.05).
The data show that the combination of naturally-occurring agents with fluoride effectively disrupted the expression of specific virulence genes, structural organization and accumulation of S. mutans biofilms, which may explain the enhanced cariostatic effect of our chemotherapeutic approach.
The cariogenic pathogen Streptococcus mutans effectively utilizes dietary sucrose for the synthesis of exopolysaccharide, which act as a scaffold for its biofilm, thus contributing to its pathogenicity, environmental stress tolerance, and antimicrobial resistance. The two-component system VicRK of S. mutans regulates a group of virulence genes that are associated with biofilm matrix synthesis. Knockout of vicX affects biofilm formation, oxidative stress tolerance, and transformation of S. mutans. However, little is known regarding the vicX-modulated structural characteristics of the exopolysaccharides underlying the biofilm formation and the phenotypes of the vicX mutants. Here, we identified the role of vicX in the structural characteristics of the exopolysaccharide matrix and biofilm physiology. The vicX mutant (SmuvicX) biofilms seemingly exhibited “desertification” with architecturally impaired exopolysaccharide-enmeshed cell clusters, compared with the UA159 strain (S. mutans wild type strain). Concomitantly, SmuvicX showed a decrease in water-insoluble glucan (WIG) synthesis and in WIG/water-soluble glucan (WSG) ratio. Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) showed that the WIG isolated from the SmuvicX biofilms had a much lower molecular weight compared with the UA159 strain indicating differences in polysaccharide chain lengths. A monosaccharide composition analysis demonstrated the importance of the vicX gene in the glucose metabolism. We performed metabolite profiling via 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which showed that several chemical shifts were absent in both WSG and WIG of SmuvicX biofilms compared with the UA159 strain. Thus, the modulation of structural characteristics of exopolysaccharide by vicX provides new insights into the interaction between the exopolysaccharide structure, gene functions, and cariogenicity. Our results suggest that vicX gene modulates the structural characteristics of exopolysaccharide associated with cariogenicity, which may be explored as a potential target that contributes to dental caries management. Furthermore, the methods used to purify the EPS of S. mutans biofilms and to analyze multiple aspects of its structure (GPC, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy) may be useful approaches to determine the roles of other virulence genes for dental caries prevention.
biofilms; caries prevention; glucosyltransferase; polysaccharides; Streptococcus mutans; two component VicRK system
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.
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.
Streptococcus mutans, the predominant bacterial species associated with dental caries, can enter the bloodstream and cause infective endocarditis. The aim of this study was to investigate S. mutans biofilm formation and adherence to endothelial cells induced by human fibrinogen. The putative mechanism by which biofilm formation is induced as well as the impact of fibrinogen on S. mutans resistance to penicillin was also evaluated. Bovine plasma dose dependently induced biofilm formation by S. mutans. Of the various plasma proteins tested, only fibrinogen promoted the formation of biofilm in a dose-dependent manner. Scanning electron microscopy observations revealed the presence of complex aggregates of bacterial cells firmly attached to the polystyrene support. S. mutans in biofilms induced by the presence of fibrinogen was markedly resistant to the bactericidal effect of penicillin. Fibrinogen also significantly increased the adherence of S. mutans to endothelial cells. Neither S. mutans cells nor culture supernatants converted fibrinogen into fibrin. However, fibrinogen is specifically bound to the cell surface of S. mutans and may act as a bridging molecule to mediate biofilm formation. In conclusion, our study identified a new mechanism promoting S. mutans biofilm formation and adherence to endothelial cells which may contribute to infective endocarditis.
Triclosan is a general membrane-active agent with a broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity that is commonly used in oral care products. In this study, we investigated the effect of sub-minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of triclosan on the capacity of the cariogenic bacterium Streptococcus mutans to form biofilm and adhere to oral epithelial cells. As quantified by crystal violet staining, biofilm formation by two reference strains of S. mutans was dose-dependently promoted, in the range of 2.2- to 6.2-fold, by 1/2 and 1/4 MIC of triclosan. Observations by scanning electron microscopy revealed the presence of a dense biofilm attached to the polystyrene surface. Growth of S. mutans in the presence of triclosan at sub-MICs also increased its capacity to adhere to a monolayer of gingival epithelial cells. The expression of several genes involved in adherence and biofilm formation in S. mutans was investigated by quantitative RT-PCR. It was found that sub-MICs of triclosan significantly increased the expression of comD, gtfC, and luxS, and to a lesser extent of gtfB and atlA genes. These findings stress the importance of maintaining effective bactericidal concentrations of therapeutic triclosan since sub-MICs may promote colonization of the oral cavity by S. mutans.
Streptococcus mutans, the primary causative agent of dental caries, contains two paralogues of the LytR-CpsA-Psr family proteins encoded by brpA and psr, respectively. Previous studies have shown that BrpA plays an important role in cell envelope biogenesis/homeostasis and affects stress responses and biofilm formation by Strep. mutans, traits critical to cariogenicity of this bacterium. In this study, a Psr-deficient mutant, TW251, was constructed. Characterization of TW251 showed that deficiency of Psr did not have any major impact on growth rate. However, when subjected to acid killing at pH 2.8, the survival rate of TW251 was decreased dramatically compared with the parent strain UA159. In addition, TW251 also displayed major defects in biofilm formation, especially during growth with sucrose. When compared to UA159, the biofilms of TW251 were mainly planar and devoid of extracellular glucans. Real-time-PCR and Western blot analyses revealed that deficiency of Psr significantly decreased the expression of glucosyltransferase C, a protein known to play a major role in biofilm formation by Strep. mutans. Transmission electron microscopy analysis showed that deficiency of BrpA caused alterations in cell envelope and cell division, and the most significant defects were observed in TW314, a Psr-deficient and BrpA-down mutant. No such effects were observed with Psr mutant TW251 under similar conditions. These results suggest that while there are similarities in functions between BrpA and Psr, distinctive differences also exist between these two paralogues. Like Bacillus subtilis but different from Staphylococcus aureus, a functional BrpA or Psr is required for viability in Strep. mutans.
Quorum sensing is a bacterial mechanism for regulating gene expression in response to changes in population density. Many bacteria are capable of acyl-homoserine lactone-based or peptide-based intraspecies quorum sensing and luxS-dependent interspecies quorum sensing. While there is good evidence about the involvement of intraspecies quorum sensing in bacterial biofilm, little is known about the role of luxS in biofilm formation. In this study, we report for the first time that luxS-dependent quorum sensing is involved in biofilm formation of Streptococcus mutans. S. mutans is a major cariogenic bacterium in the multispecies bacterial biofilm commonly known as dental plaque. An ortholog of luxS for S. mutans was identified using the data available in the S. mutans genome project (http://www.genome.ou.edu/smutans.html). Using an assay developed for the detection of the LuxS-associated quorum sensing signal autoinducer 2 (AI-2), it was demonstrated that this ortholog was able to complement the luxS negative phenotype of Escherichia coli DH5α. It was also shown that AI-2 is indeed produced by S. mutans. AI-2 production is maximal during mid- to late-log growth in batch culture. Mutant strains devoid of the luxS gene were constructed and found to be defective in producing the AI-2 signal. There are also marked phenotypic differences between the wild type and the luxS mutants. Microscopic analysis of in vitro-grown biofilm structure revealed that the luxS mutant biofilms adopted a much more granular appearance, rather than the relatively smooth, confluent layer normally seen in the wild type. These results suggest that LuxS-dependent signal may play an important role in biofilm formation of S. mutans.
The abilities of Streptococcus mutans to form biofilms and to survive acidic pH are regarded as two important virulence determinants in the pathogenesis of dental caries. Environmental stimuli are thought to regulate the expression of several genes associated with virulence factors through the activity of two-component signal transduction systems. Yet, little is known of the involvement of these systems in the physiology and pathogenicity of S. mutans. In this study, we describe a two-component regulatory system and its involvement in biofilm formation and acid resistance in S. mutans. By searching the S. mutans genome database with tblastn with the HK03 and RR03 protein sequences from S. pneumoniae as queries, we identified two genes, designated hk11 and rr11, that encode a putative histidine kinase and its cognate response regulator. To gain insight into their function, a PCR-mediated allelic-exchange mutagenesis strategy was used to create the hk11 (Emr) and rr11 (Emr) deletion mutants from S. mutans wild-type NG8 named SMHK11 and SMRR11, respectively. The mutants were examined for their growth rates, genetic competence, ability to form biofilms, and resistance to low-pH challenge. The results showed that deletion of hk11 or rr11 resulted in defects in biofilm formation and resistance to acidic pH. Both mutants formed biofilms with reduced biomass (50 to 70% of the density of the parent strain). Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the biofilms formed by the mutants had sponge-like architecture with what appeared to be large gaps that resembled water channel-like structures. The mutant biofilms were composed of longer chains of cells than those of the parent biofilm. Deletion of hk11 also resulted in greatly diminished resistance to low pH, although we did not observe the same effect when rr11 was deleted. Genetic competence was not affected in either mutant. The results suggested that the gene product of hk11 in S. mutans might act as a pH sensor that could cross talk with one or more response regulators. We conclude that the two-component signal transduction system encoded by hk11 and rr11 represents a new regulatory system involved in biofilm formation and acid resistance in S. mutans.
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.
teeth; dental plaque; dental caries; Streptococcus mutans; biofilm; S-IgA; DNA vaccine
A biofilm is a complex community of microorganisms that develop on surfaces in diverse environments. The thickness of the biofilm plays a crucial role in the physiology of the immobilized bacteria. The most cariogenic bacteria, mutans streptococci, are common inhabitants of a dental biofilm community. In this study, DNA-microarray analysis was used to identify differentially expressed genes associated with the thickness of S. mutans biofilms.
Comparative transcriptome analyses indicated that expression of 29 genes was differentially altered in 400- vs. 100-microns depth and 39 genes in 200- vs. 100-microns biofilms. Only 10 S. mutans genes showed differential expression in both 400- vs. 100-microns and 200- vs. 100-microns biofilms. All of these genes were upregulated.
As sucrose is a predominant factor in oral biofilm development, its influence was evaluated on selected genes expression in the various depths of biofilms. The presence of sucrose did not noticeably change the regulation of these genes in 400- vs. 100-microns and/or 200- vs. 100-microns biofilms tested by real-time RT-PCR.
Furthermore, we analyzed the expression profile of selected biofilm thickness associated genes in the luxS- mutant strain. The expression of those genes was not radically changed in the mutant strain compared to wild-type bacteria in planktonic condition. Only slight downregulation was recorded in SMU.2146c, SMU.574, SMU.609, and SMU.987 genes expression in luxS- bacteria in biofilm vs. planktonic environments.
These findings reveal genes associated with the thickness of biofilms of S. mutans. Expression of these genes is apparently not regulated directly by luxS and is not necessarily influenced by the presence of sucrose in the growth media.
Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiologic agent of dental caries, possesses a series of virulence factors associated with its cariogenicity. Alternatives to traditional antimicrobial treatment, agents selectively inhibiting the virulence factors without necessarily suppressing the resident oral species, are promising. The anticariogenic properties of tea have been suggested in experimental animals and humans. Tea polyphenols, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), have been shown to inhibit the growth and glucosyltransferases activity of S. mutans. However, their effects on biofilm and cariogenic virulence factors of oral streptococci other than glucosyltransferases have not been well documented. In this study, we investigated the biological effect of EGCg on the virulence factors of S. mutans associated with its acidogenicity and acidurity. The antimicrobial effects of EGCg on S. mutans biofilm grown in chemically defined medium were also examined. EGCg inhibited growth of S. mutans planktonic cells at an MIC of 31.25 μg/ml and a minimal bactericidal concentration (MBC) of 62.5 μg/ml. EGCg also inhibited S. mutans biofilm formation at 15.6 μg/ml (minimum concentration that showed at least 90% inhibition of biofilm formation) and reduced viability of the preformed biofilm at 625 μg/ml (sessile MIC80). EGCg at sub-MIC levels inhibited acidogenicity and acidurity of S. mutans cells. Analysis of the data obtained from real-time PCR showed that EGCg significantly suppressed the ldh, eno, atpD, and aguD genes of S. mutans UA159. Inhibition of the enzymatic activity of F1Fo-ATPase and lactate dehydrogenase was also noted (50% inhibitory concentration between 15.6 and 31.25 μg/ml). These findings suggest that EGCg is a natural anticariogenic agent in that it exhibits antimicrobial activity against S. mutans and suppresses the specific virulence factors associated with its cariogenicity.
Homeostasis of oral microbiota can be maintained through microbial interactions. Previous studies showed that Streptococcus oligofermentans, a non-mutans streptococci frequently isolated from caries-free subjects, inhibited the cariogenic Streptococcus mutans by the production of hydrogen peroxide (HP). Since pH is a critical factor in caries formation, we aimed to study the influence of pH on the competition between S. oligofermentans and S. mutans in biofilms. To this end, S. mutans and S. oligofermentans were inoculated alone or mixed at 1:1 ratio in buffered biofilm medium in a 96-well active attachment model. The single- and dual-species biofilms were grown under either constantly neutral pH or pH-cycling conditions. The latter includes two cycles of 8 h neutral pH and 16 h pH 5.5, used to mimic cariogenic condition. The 48 h biofilms were analysed for the viable cell counts, lactate and HP production. The last two measurements were carried out after incubating the 48 h biofilms in buffers supplemented with 1% glucose (pH 7.0) for 4 h. The results showed that S. oligofermentans inhibited the growth of S. mutans in dual-species biofilms under both tested pH conditions. The lactic acid production of dual-species biofilms was significantly lower than that of single-species S. mutans biofilms. Moreover, dual-species and single-species S. oligofermentans biofilms grown under pH-cycling conditions (with a 16 h low pH period) produced a significantly higher amount of HP than those grown under constantly neutral pH. In conclusion, S. oligofermentans inhibited S. mutans in biofilms not only under neutral pH, but also under pH-cycling conditions, likely through HP production. S. oligofermentans may be a compelling probiotic candidate against caries.