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1.  Mutation of luxS Affects Biofilm Formation in Streptococcus mutans  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(4):1972-1979.
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.
doi:10.1128/IAI.71.4.1972-1979.2003
PMCID: PMC152054  PMID: 12654815
2.  Porphyromonas gingivalis Genes Involved in Community Development with Streptococcus gordonii▿  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(11):6419-6428.
Porphyromonas gingivalis, one of the causative agents of adult periodontitis, develops biofilm microcolonies on substrata of Streptococcus gordonii but not on Streptococcus mutans. P. gingivalis genome microarrays were used to identify genes differentially regulated during accretion of P. gingivalis in heterotypic biofilms with S. gordonii. Thirty-three genes showed up- or downregulation by array analysis, and differential expression was confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. The functions of the regulated genes were predominantly related to metabolism and energy production. In addition, many of the genes have no current known function. The roles of two upregulated genes, ftsH (PG0047) encoding an ATP-dependent zinc metallopeptidase and ptpA (PG1641) encoding a putative tyrosine phosphatase, were investigated further by mutational analysis. Strains with mutations in these genes developed more abundant biofilms with S. gordonii than the parental strain developed. ftsH and ptpA may thus participate in a regulatory network that constrains P. gingivalis accumulation in heterotypic biofilms. This study provided a global analysis of P. gingivalis transcriptional responses in an oral microbial community and also provided insight into the regulation of heterotypic biofilm development.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00639-06
PMCID: PMC1695522  PMID: 16923784
3.  Novel Two-Component Regulatory System Involved in Biofilm Formation and Acid Resistance in Streptococcus mutans 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(22):6333-6342.
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.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.22.6333-6342.2002
PMCID: PMC151940  PMID: 12399503
4.  Biofilm formation and virulence expression by Streptococcus mutans are altered when grown in dual-species model 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:111.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
These results suggest that the presence of specific oral bacteria differentially affects biofilm formation and virulence gene expression by S. mutans.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-111
PMCID: PMC2867949  PMID: 20398271
5.  Functional Genomics Approach to Identifying Genes Required for Biofilm Development by Streptococcus mutans 
Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiological agent of human dental caries, is an obligate biofilm-forming bacterium. The goals of this study were to identify the gene(s) required for biofilm formation by this organism and to elucidate the role(s) that some of the known global regulators of gene expression play in controlling biofilm formation. In S. mutans UA159, the brpA gene (for biofilm regulatory protein) was found to encode a novel protein of 406 amino acid residues. A strain carrying an insertionally inactivated copy of brpA formed longer chains than did the parental strain, aggregated in liquid culture, and was unable to form biofilms as shown by an in vitro biofilm assay. A putative homologue of the enzyme responsible for synthesis of autoinducer II (AI-2) of the bacterial quorum-sensing system was also identified in S. mutans UA159, but insertional inactivation of the gene (luxSSm) did not alter colony or cell morphology or diminish the capacity of S. mutans to form biofilms. We also examined the role of the homologue of the Bacillus subtilis catabolite control protein CcpA in S. mutans in biofilm formation, and the results showed that loss of CcpA resulted in about a 60% decrease in the ability to form biofilms on an abiotic surface. From these data, we conclude that CcpA and BrpA may regulate genes that are required for stable biofilm formation by S. mutans.
doi:10.1128/AEM.68.3.1196-1203.2002
PMCID: PMC123778  PMID: 11872468
6.  Streptococcus mutans Clonal Variation Revealed by Multilocus Sequence Typing▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(8):2616-2625.
Streptococcus mutans is the major pathogen of dental caries, a biofilm-dependent infectious disease, and occasionally causes infective endocarditis. S. mutans strains have been classified into four serotypes (c, e, f, and k). However, little is known about the S. mutans population, including the clonal relationships among strains of S. mutans, in relation to the particular clones that cause systemic diseases. To address this issue, we have developed a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme for S. mutans. Eight housekeeping gene fragments were sequenced from each of 102 S. mutans isolates collected from the four serotypes in Japan and Finland. Between 14 and 23 alleles per locus were identified, allowing us theoretically to distinguish more than 1.2 × 1010 sequence types. We identified 92 sequence types in these 102 isolates, indicating that S. mutans contains a diverse population. Whereas serotype c strains were widely distributed in the dendrogram, serotype e, f, and k strains were differentiated into clonal complexes. Therefore, we conclude that the ancestral strain of S. mutans was serotype c. No geographic specificity was identified. However, the distribution of the collagen-binding protein gene (cnm) and direct evidence of mother-to-child transmission were clearly evident. In conclusion, the superior discriminatory capacity of this MLST scheme for S. mutans may have important practical implications.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02343-06
PMCID: PMC1951271  PMID: 17567784
7.  A Quorum-Sensing Signaling System Essential for Genetic Competence in Streptococcus mutans Is Involved in Biofilm Formation 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(10):2699-2708.
In a previous study, a quorum-sensing signaling system essential for genetic competence in Streptococcus mutans was identified, characterized, and found to function optimally in biofilms (Li et al., J. Bacteriol. 183:897-908, 2001). Here, we demonstrate that this system also plays a role in the ability of S. mutans to initiate biofilm formation. To test this hypothesis, S. mutans wild-type strain NG8 and its knockout mutants defective in comC, comD, comE, and comX, as well as a comCDE deletion mutant, were assayed for their ability to initiate biofilm formation. The spatial distribution and architecture of the biofilms were examined by scanning electron microscopy and confocal scanning laser microscopy. The results showed that inactivation of any of the individual genes under study resulted in the formation of an abnormal biofilm. The comC mutant, unable to produce or secrete a competence-stimulating peptide (CSP), formed biofilms with altered architecture, whereas the comD and comE mutants, which were defective in sensing and responding to the CSP, formed biofilms with reduced biomass. Exogenous addition of the CSP and complementation with a plasmid containing the wild-type comC gene into the cultures restored the wild-type biofilm architecture of comC mutants but showed no effect on the comD, comE, or comX mutant biofilms. The fact that biofilms formed by comC mutants differed from the comD, comE, and comX mutant biofilms suggested that multiple signal transduction pathways were affected by CSP. Addition of synthetic CSP into the culture medium or introduction of the wild-type comC gene on a shuttle vector into the comCDE deletion mutant partially restored the wild-type biofilm architecture and further supported this idea. We conclude that the quorum-sensing signaling system essential for genetic competence in S. mutans is important for the formation of biofilms by this gram-positive organism.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.10.2699-2708.2002
PMCID: PMC135014  PMID: 11976299
8.  A model of efficiency: Stress tolerance by Streptococcus mutans 
Microbiology (Reading, England)  2008;154(Pt 11):3247-3255.
The complete genome sequence of Streptococcus mutans, a bacterial pathogen commonly associated with human dental caries, was published in 2002. The streamlined genome (2.03Mb) revealed an organism that was well adapted to its obligately host-associated existence in multispecies biofilms on tooth surfaces; a dynamic environment that undergoes rapid and substantial environmental fluctuations. However, S. mutans lacks many of the sensing systems and alternative sigma factors that bacteria often use to coordinate gene expression in response to stress and changes in their environment. Over the past seven years, functional genomics and proteomics have enhanced our understanding of how S. mutans has integrated the stress regulon and global transcriptional regulators to integrate responses to environmental fluctuations with modulation of virulence in a way that ensures persistence in the oral cavity and capitalizes on conditions that are favorable for the development of dental caries. Here, we highlight advances on dissection of the stress regulon of S. mutans and its intimate interrelationship with pathogenesis.
doi:10.1099/mic.0.2008/023770-0
PMCID: PMC2627771  PMID: 18957579
9.  Phenotypic characterization of the foldase homologue PrsA in Streptococcus mutans 
Molecular oral microbiology  2012;28(2):10.1111/omi.12014.
SUMMARY
Streptococcus mutans is generally considered to be the principal etiological agent for dental caries. Many of the proteins necessary for its colonization of the oral cavity and pathogenesis are exported to the cell surface or the extracellular matrix, a process that requires the assistance of the export machineries. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that the S. mutans genome contains a prsA gene, whose counterparts in other gram positive bacteria, including Bacillus and Lactococcus encode functions involved in protein post-export. In this study, we constructed a PrsA-deficient derivative of S. mutans and demonstrated that the prsA mutant displayed an altered cell wall/ membrane protein profile as well as cell surface related phenotypes, including auto-aggregation, increased surface hydrophobicity, and abnormal biofilm formation. Further analysis revealed that the disruption of the prsA gene resulted in reduced insoluble glucan production by cell surface localized glucosyltransferases, and mutacin as well as cell surface-display of a heterologous expressed GFP fusion to the cell surface protein SpaP. Our study suggested that PrsA in S. mutans encodes functions similar to the ones identified in Bacillus, and thus is likely involved in protein post-export.
doi:10.1111/omi.12014
PMCID: PMC3819222  PMID: 23241367
foldase protein PrsA; protein secretion; Streptococcus mutans
10.  Natural Genetic Transformation of Streptococcus mutans Growing in Biofilms 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(3):897-908.
Streptococcus mutans is a bacterium that has evolved to be dependent upon a biofilm “lifestyle” for survival and persistence in its natural ecosystem, dental plaque. We initiated this study to identify the genes involved in the development of genetic competence in S. mutans and to assay the natural genetic transformability of biofilm-grown cells. Using genomic analyses, we identified a quorum-sensing peptide pheromone signaling system similar to those previously found in other streptococci. The genetic locus of this system comprises three genes, comC, comD, and comE, that encode a precursor to the peptide competence factor, a histidine kinase, and a response regulator, respectively. We deduced the sequence of comC and its active pheromone product and chemically synthesized the corresponding 21-amino-acid competence-stimulating peptide (CSP). Addition of CSP to noncompetent cells facilitated increased transformation frequencies, with typically 1% of the total cell population transformed. To further confirm the roles of these genes in genetic competence, we inactivated them by insertion-duplication mutagenesis or allelic replacement followed by assays of transformation efficiency. We also demonstrated that biofilm-grown S. mutans cells were transformed at a rate 10- to 600-fold higher than planktonic S. mutans cells. Donor DNA included a suicide plasmid, S. mutans chromosomal DNA harboring a heterologous erythromycin resistance gene, and a replicative plasmid. The cells were optimally transformed during the formation of 8- to 16-h-old biofilms primarily consisting of microcolonies on solid surfaces. We also found that dead cells in the biofilms could act as donors of a chromosomally encoded antibiotic resistance determinant. This work demonstrated that a peptide pheromone system controls genetic competence in S. mutans and that the system functions optimally when the cells are living in actively growing biofilms.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.3.897-908.2001
PMCID: PMC94956  PMID: 11208787
11.  Interactions between Oral Bacteria: Inhibition of Streptococcus mutans Bacteriocin Production by Streptococcus gordonii 
Streptococcus mutans has been recognized as an important etiological agent in human dental caries. Some strains of S. mutans also produce bacteriocins. In this study, we sought to demonstrate that bacteriocin production by S. mutans strains GS5 and BM71 was mediated by quorum sensing, which is dependent on a competence-stimulating peptide (CSP) signaling system encoded by the com genes. We also demonstrated that interactions with some other oral streptococci interfered with S. mutans bacteriocin production both in broth and in biofilms. The inhibition of S. mutans bacteriocin production by oral bacteria was stronger in biofilms than in broth. Using transposon Tn916 mutagenesis, we identified a gene (sgc; named for Streptococcus gordonii challisin) responsible for the inhibition of S. mutans bacteriocin production by S. gordonii Challis. Interruption of the sgc gene in S. gordonii Challis resulted in attenuated inhibition of S. mutans bacteriocin production. The supernatant fluids from the sgc mutant did not inactivate the exogenous S. mutans CSP as did those from the parent strain Challis. S. gordonii Challis did not inactivate bacteriocin produced by S. mutans GS5. Because S. mutans uses quorum sensing to regulate virulence, strategies designed to interfere with these signaling systems may have broad applicability for biological control of this caries-causing organism.
doi:10.1128/AEM.71.1.354-362.2005
PMCID: PMC544254  PMID: 15640209
12.  Influences of trans-trans farnesol, a membrane-targeting sesquiterpenoid, on Streptococcus mutans physiology and survival within mixed-species oral biofilms 
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.
doi:10.4248/IJOS11038
PMCID: PMC3469883  PMID: 21485314
trans-trans farnesol; acid production; acid tolerance; biofilms; proton permeability; Streptococcus mutans
13.  Targeted Antimicrobial Therapy Against Streptococcus mutans Establishes Protective Non-cariogenic Oral Biofilms and Reduces Subsequent Infection 
Aim
Dental biofilms are complex communities composed largely of harmless bacteria. Certain pathogenic species including Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) can become predominant when host factors such as dietary sucrose intake imbalance the biofilm ecology. Current approaches to control S. mutans infection are not pathogen-specific and eliminate the entire oral community along with any protective benefits provided. Here, we tested the hypothesis that removal of S. mutans from the oral community through targeted antimicrobial therapy achieves protection against subsequent S. mutans colonization.
Methodology
Controlled amounts of S. mutans were mixed with S. mutans-free saliva, grown into biofilms and visualized by antibody staining and cfu quantization. Two specifically-targeted antimicrobial peptides (STAMPs) against S. mutans were tested for their ability to reduce S. mutans biofilm incorporation upon treatment of the inocula. The resulting biofilms were also evaluated for their ability to resist subsequent exogenous S. mutans colonization.
Results
S. mutans colonization was considerably reduced (9 ± 0.4 fold reduction, P=0.01) when the surface was preoccupied with saliva-derived biofilms. Furthermore, treatment with S. mutans-specific STAMPs yielded S. mutans-deficient biofilms with significant protection against further S. mutans colonization (5 minutes treatment: 38 ± 13 fold reduction P=0.01; 16 hours treatment: 96 ± 28 fold reduction P=0.07).
Conclusion
S. mutans infection is reduced by the presence of existing biofilms. Thus maintaining a healthy or “normal” biofilm through targeted antimicrobial therapy (such as the STAMPs) could represent an effective strategy for the treatment and prevention of S. mutans colonization in the oral cavity and caries progression.
doi:10.4248/IJOS10024
PMCID: PMC3733586  PMID: 20737932
targeted antimicrobial therapy; antimicrobial peptide; biofilm; Streptococcus mutans; protective colonization; caries
14.  Genetic adaptation of Streptococcus mutans during biofilm formation on different types of surfaces 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:51.
Background
Adhesion and successful colonization of bacteria onto solid surfaces play a key role in biofilm formation. The initial adhesion and the colonization of bacteria may differ between the various types of surfaces found in oral cavity. Therefore, it is conceivable that diverse biofilms are developed on those various surfaces. The aim of the study was to investigate the molecular modifications occurring during in vitro biofilm development of Streptococcus mutans UA159 on several different dental surfaces.
Results
Growth analysis of the immobilized bacterial populations generated on the different surfaces shows that the bacteria constructed a more confluent and thick biofilms on a hydroxyapatite surface compared to the other tested surfaces. Using DNA-microarray technology we identified the differentially expressed genes of S. mutans, reflecting the physiological state of biofilms formed on the different biomaterials tested. Eight selected genes were further analyzed by real time RT-PCR. To further determine the impact of the tested material surfaces on the physiology of the bacteria, we tested the secretion of AI-2 signal by S. mutans embedded on those biofilms. Comparative transcriptome analyses indicated on changes in the S. mutans genome in biofilms formed onto different types of surfaces and enabled us to identify genes most differentially expressed on those surfaces. In addition, the levels of autoinducer-2 in biofilms from the various tested surfaces were different.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that gene expression of S. mutans differs in biofilms formed on tested surfaces, which manifest the physiological state of bacteria influenced by the type of surface material they accumulate onto. Moreover, the stressful circumstances of adjustment to the surface may persist in the bacteria enhancing intercellular signaling and surface dependent biofilm formation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-51
PMCID: PMC2838874  PMID: 20167085
15.  Influence of a model human defensive peroxidase system on oral streptococcal antagonism 
Microbiology  2009;155(Pt 11):3691-3700.
Streptococcus is a dominant genus in the human oral cavity, making up about 20 % of the more than 800 species of bacteria that have been identified, and about 80 % of the early biofilm colonizers. Oral streptococci include both health-compatible (e.g. Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus sanguinis) and pathogenic strains (e.g. the cariogenic Streptococcus mutans). Because the streptococci have similar metabolic requirements, they have developed defence strategies that lead to antagonism (also known as bacterial interference). S. mutans expresses bacteriocins that are cytotoxic toward S. gordonii and S. sanguinis, whereas S. gordonii and S. sanguinis differentially produce H2O2 (under aerobic growth conditions), which is relatively toxic toward S. mutans. Superimposed on the inter-bacterial combat are the effects of the host defensive mechanisms. We report here on the multifarious effects of bovine lactoperoxidase (bLPO) on the antagonism between S. gordonii and S. sanguinis versus S. mutans. Some of the effects are apparently counterproductive with respect to maintaining a health-compatible population of streptococci. For example, the bLPO system (comprised of bLPO+SCN−+H2O2) destroys H2O2, thereby abolishing the ability of S. gordonii and S. sanguinis to inhibit the growth of S. mutans. Furthermore, bLPO protein (with or without its substrate) inhibits bacterial growth in a biofilm assay, but sucrose negates the inhibitory effects of the bLPO protein, thereby facilitating adherence of S. mutans in lieu of S. gordonii and S. sanguinis. Our findings may be relevant to environmental pressures that select early supragingival colonizers.
doi:10.1099/mic.0.031310-0
PMCID: PMC2888128  PMID: 19684069
16.  Involvement of Streptococcus mutans regulator RR11 in oxidative stress response during biofilm growth and in the development of genetic competence 
Letters in applied microbiology  2008;47(5):439-444.
Aims
To identify the genes regulated by RR11, the regulator of the Streptococcus mutans HK/RR11 two-component system.
Methods and Results
The S. mutans RR11-encoding gene was inactivated, and the effects of gene disruption on the cell's ability to form biofilms under stresses and acquire extracellular DNA were tested. Biofilm was reduced in cells lacking RR11 following exposure to oxidative stress. RR11-defective cells showed approx. 20-fold reduction in transformation efficiency. Microarray used to decipher the RR11-regulated genes in biofilm showed that approx. 5% of the UA159 genome underwent a significant change in expression. RR11 was found to regulate 174 genes, including genes involved in competence, stress-response and cell division.
Conclusions
Target genes controlled by RR11during biofilm growth have been identified by a comparison of transcriptional profiles between an RR11 defective mutant and the parental strain. The results demonstrated that RR11 is involved in the control of diverse cellular processes, including the formation of biofilm under oxidative stress and development of genetic competence.
Significance and Impact of the Study
The regulator of HK/RR11 system controls a large regulon and is an important regulator involved in stress response during S. mutans biofilm growth enabling the survival and persistence of its progeny in the microbial community.
doi:10.1111/j.1472-765X.2008.02455.x
PMCID: PMC2771662  PMID: 19146535
biofilm; competence; DNA microarray; stress response; two-component system
17.  Streptococcus mutans Protein Synthesis during Mixed-Species Biofilm Development by High-Throughput Quantitative Proteomics 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45795.
Biofilms formed on tooth surfaces are comprised of mixed microbiota enmeshed in an extracellular matrix. Oral biofilms are constantly exposed to environmental changes, which influence the microbial composition, matrix formation and expression of virulence. Streptococcus mutans and sucrose are key modulators associated with the evolution of virulent-cariogenic biofilms. In this study, we used a high-throughput quantitative proteomics approach to examine how S. mutans produces relevant proteins that facilitate its establishment and optimal survival during mixed-species biofilms development induced by sucrose. Biofilms of S. mutans, alone or mixed with Actinomyces naeslundii and Streptococcus oralis, were initially formed onto saliva-coated hydroxyapatite surface under carbohydrate-limiting condition. Sucrose (1%, w/v) was then introduced to cause environmental changes, and to induce biofilm accumulation. Multidimensional protein identification technology (MudPIT) approach detected up to 60% of proteins encoded by S. mutans within biofilms. Specific proteins associated with exopolysaccharide matrix assembly, metabolic and stress adaptation processes were highly abundant as the biofilm transit from earlier to later developmental stages following sucrose introduction. Our results indicate that S. mutans within a mixed-species biofilm community increases the expression of specific genes associated with glucan synthesis and remodeling (gtfBC, dexA) and glucan-binding (gbpB) during this transition (P<0.05). Furthermore, S. mutans up-regulates specific adaptation mechanisms to cope with acidic environments (F1F0-ATPase system, fatty acid biosynthesis, branched chain amino acids metabolism), and molecular chaperones (GroEL). Interestingly, the protein levels and gene expression are in general augmented when S. mutans form mixed-species biofilms (vs. single-species biofilms) demonstrating fundamental differences in the matrix assembly, survival and biofilm maintenance in the presence of other organisms. Our data provide insights about how S. mutans optimizes its metabolism and adapts/survives within the mixed-species community in response to a dynamically changing environment. This reflects the intricate physiological processes linked to expression of virulence by this bacterium within complex biofilms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045795
PMCID: PMC3458072  PMID: 23049864
18.  Targeted antimicrobial therapy against Streptococcus mutans establishes protective non-cariogenic oral biofilms and reduces subsequent infection 
Aim
Dental biofilms are complex communities composed largely of harmless bacteria. Certain pathogenic species including Streptococcus (S. mutans) can become predominant when host factors such as dietary sucrose intake imbalance the biofilm ecology. Current approaches to control S. mutans infection are not pathogen-specific and eliminate the entire oral community along with any protective benefits provided. Here, we tested the hypothesis that removal of S. mutans from the oral community through targeted antimicrobial therapy achieves protection against subsequent S. mutans colonization.
Methodology
Controlled amounts of S. mutans were mixed with S. mutans-free saliva, grown into biofilms and visualized by antibody staining and cfu quantization. Two specifically-targeted antimicrobial peptides (STAMPs) against S. mutans were tested for their ability to reduce S. mutans biofilm incorporation upon treatment of the inocula. The resulting biofilms were also evaluated for their ability to resist subsequent exogenous S. mutans colonization.
Results
S. mutans colonization was considerably reduced (9 ± 0.4 fold reduction, p=0.01) when the surface was preoccupied with saliva-derived biofilms. Furthermore, treatment with S. mutans-specific STAMPs yielded S. mutans-deficient biofilms with very significant protection against further S. mutans colonization (5min treatment: 38 ± 13 fold reduction p=0.01; 16 hr treatment: 96 ± 28 fold reduction p=0.07).
Conclusions
S. mutans infection is reduced by the presence of existing biofilms. Thus maintaining a healthy or “normal” biofilm through targeted antimicrobial therapy (such as the STAMPs) could represent an effective strategy for the treatment and prevention of S. mutans colonization in the oral cavity and caries progression.
PMCID: PMC2953616  PMID: 20737932
Targeted antimicrobial therapy; antimicrobial peptide; biofilm; Streptococcus mutans; protective colonization; caries
19.  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.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02066-10
PMCID: PMC3067281  PMID: 21239559
20.  Dynamics of Streptococcus mutans Transcriptome in Response to Starch and Sucrose during Biofilm Development 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13478.
The combination of sucrose and starch in the presence of surface-adsorbed salivary α-amylase and bacterial glucosyltransferases increase the formation of a structurally and metabolically distinctive biofilm by Streptococcus mutans. This host-pathogen-diet interaction may modulate the formation of pathogenic biofilms related to dental caries disease. We conducted a comprehensive study to further investigate the influence of the dietary carbohydrates on S. mutans-transcriptome at distinct stages of biofilm development using whole genomic profiling with a new computational tool (MDV) for data mining. S. mutans UA159 biofilms were formed on amylase-active saliva coated hydroxyapatite discs in the presence of various concentrations of sucrose alone (ranging from 0.25 to 5% w/v) or in combination with starch (0.5 to 1% w/v). Overall, the presence of sucrose and starch (suc+st) influenced the dynamics of S. mutans transcriptome (vs. sucrose alone), which may be associated with gradual digestion of starch by surface-adsorbed amylase. At 21 h of biofilm formation, most of the differentially expressed genes were related to sugar metabolism, such as upregulation of genes involved in maltose/maltotriose uptake and glycogen synthesis. In addition, the groEL/groES chaperones were induced in the suc+st-biofilm, indicating that presence of starch hydrolysates may cause environmental stress. In contrast, at 30 h of biofilm development, multiple genes associated with sugar uptake/transport (e.g. maltose), two-component systems, fermentation/glycolysis and iron transport were differentially expressed in suc+st-biofilms (vs. sucrose-biofilms). Interestingly, lytT (bacteria autolysis) was upregulated, which was correlated with presence of extracellular DNA in the matrix of suc+st-biofilms. Specific genes related to carbohydrate uptake and glycogen metabolism were detected in suc+st-biofilms in more than one time point, indicating an association between presence of starch hydrolysates and intracellular polysaccharide storage. Our data show complex remodeling of S. mutans-transcriptome in response to changing environmental conditions in situ, which could modulate the dynamics of biofilm development and pathogenicity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013478
PMCID: PMC2957427  PMID: 20976057
21.  Streptococcus Mutans Glucan-Binding Protein-A Affects Streptococcus Gordonii Biofilm Architecture 
FEMS microbiology letters  2006;267(1):80-88.
The glucan-binding protein-A (GbpA) of Streptococcus mutans has been shown to contribute to the architecture of glucan-dependent biofilms formed by this species and influence virulence in a rat model. Since S. mutans synthesizes multiple glucosyltransferases (GTF) and non-GTF glucan-binding proteins (GBPs), it’s possible that there is functional redundancy that overshadows the full extent of GbpA contributions to S. mutans biology. Glucan-associated properties such as adhesion, aggregation, and biofilm formation were examined independently of other S. mutans GBPs by cloning the gbpA gene into a heterologous host, Streptococcus gordonii, and derivatives with altered or diminished GTF activity. The presence of GbpA did not alter dextran-dependent aggregation nor the initial sucrose-dependent adhesion of S. gordonii. However, expression of GbpA altered the biofilm formed by wild-type S. gordonii as well as the biofilm formed by strain CH107 that produced primarily α-1,6-linked glucan. Expression of gbpA did not alter the biofilm formed by strain DS512 that produced significantly lower quantities of parental glucan. These data are consistent with a role for GbpA in facilitating the development of biofilms that harbor taller microcolonies via binding to α-1,6-linkages within glucan. The magnitude of the GbpA effect appears dependent on the quantity and linkage of available glucan.
doi:10.1111/j.1574-6968.2006.00557.x
PMCID: PMC1780135  PMID: 17166223
22.  Exopolysaccharides Produced by Streptococcus mutans Glucosyltransferases Modulate the Establishment of Microcolonies within Multispecies Biofilms▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(12):3024-3032.
Streptococcus mutans is a key contributor to the formation of the extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) matrix in dental biofilms. The exopolysaccharides, which are mostly glucans synthesized by streptococcal glucosyltransferases (Gtfs), provide binding sites that promote accumulation of microorganisms on the tooth surface and further establishment of pathogenic biofilms. This study explored (i) the role of S. mutans Gtfs in the development of the EPS matrix and microcolonies in biofilms, (ii) the influence of exopolysaccharides on formation of microcolonies, and (iii) establishment of S. mutans in a multispecies biofilm in vitro using a novel fluorescence labeling technique. Our data show that the ability of S. mutans strains defective in the gtfB gene or the gtfB and gtfC genes to form microcolonies on saliva-coated hydroxyapatite surfaces was markedly disrupted. However, deletion of both gtfB (associated with insoluble glucan synthesis) and gtfC (associated with insoluble and soluble glucan synthesis) is required for the maximum reduction in EPS matrix and biofilm formation. S. mutans grown with sucrose in the presence of Streptococcus oralis and Actinomyces naeslundii steadily formed exopolysaccharides, which allowed the initial clustering of bacterial cells and further development into highly structured microcolonies. Concomitantly, S. mutans became the major species in the mature biofilm. Neither the EPS matrix nor microcolonies were formed in the presence of glucose in the multispecies biofilm. Our data show that GtfB and GtfC are essential for establishment of the EPS matrix, but GtfB appears to be responsible for formation of microcolonies by S. mutans; these Gtf-mediated processes may enhance the competitiveness of S. mutans in the multispecies environment in biofilms on tooth surfaces.
doi:10.1128/JB.01649-09
PMCID: PMC2901689  PMID: 20233920
23.  DNA-microarrays identification of Streptococcus mutans genes associated with biofilm thickness 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:236.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-8-236
PMCID: PMC2647549  PMID: 19114020
24.  The changing faces of Streptococcus antigen I/II polypeptide family adhesins 
Molecular microbiology  2010;77(2):276-286.
Summary
Streptococcus mutans antigen I/II (AgI/II) protein was one of the first cell-wall anchored adhesins identified in Gram-positive bacteria. It mediates attachment of Streptococcus mutans to tooth surfaces and has been a focus for immunization studies against dental caries. The AgI/II family polypeptides recognize salivary glycoproteins, and are also involved in biofilm formation, platelet aggregation, tissue invasion, and immune modulation. The genes encoding AgI/II family polypeptides are found amongst Streptococcus species indigenous to the human mouth, as well as in S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, and S. suis. Evidence of functionalities for different regions of the AgI/II proteins has emerged. A sequence motif within the C-terminal portion of Streptococcus gordonii SspB (AgI/II) is bound by Porphyromonas gingivalis, thus promoting oral colonization by this anaerobic pathogen. The significance of other epitopes is now clearer following resolution of regional crystal structures. A new picture emerges of the central V (variable) region, predicted to contain a carbohydrate-binding trench, being projected from the cell surface by a stalk formed by an unusual association between an amino-terminal α-helix and a carboxy-terminal polyproline helix. This presentation mode might be important in determining functional conformations of other Gram-positive surface proteins that have adhesin domains flanked by α-helical and proline-rich regions.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07212.x
PMCID: PMC2909373  PMID: 20497507
Cell wall protein; adhesin; crystal structure AgI/II; epitope conformation; vaccine anti-Streptococcus
25.  Influences of naturally occurring agents in combination with fluoride on gene expression and structural organization of Streptococcus mutans in biofilms 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:228.
Background
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.
Results
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).
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-9-228
PMCID: PMC2774857  PMID: 19863808

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