The Rex repressor has been implicated in regulation of central carbon and energy metabolism in Gram-positive bacteria. We have previously shown that Streptococcus mutans, the primary causative agent of dental caries, alters its transcriptome upon Rex-deficiency and renders S. mutans to have increased susceptibility to oxidative stress, aberrations in glucan production, and poor biofilm formation. In this study, we showed that rex in S. mutans is co-transcribed as an operon with downstream guaA, encoding a putative glutamine amidotransferase. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that recombinant Rex bound promoters of target genes avidly and specifically, including those down-regulated in response to Rex-deficiency, and that the ability of recombinant Rex to bind to selected promoters was modulated by NADH and NAD+. Results suggest that Rex in S. mutans can function as an activator in response to intracellular NADH/NAD+ level, although the exact binding site for activator Rex remains unclear. Consistent with a role in oxidative stress tolerance, hydrogen peroxide challenge assays showed that the Rex-deficient mutant, TW239, and the Rex/GuaA double mutant, JB314, were more susceptible to hydrogen peroxide killing than the wildtype, UA159. Relative to UA159, JB314 displayed major defects in biofilm formation, with a decrease of more than 50-fold in biomass after 48-hours. Collectively, these results further suggest that Rex in S. mutans regulates fermentation pathways, oxidative stress tolerance, and biofilm formation in response to intracellular NADH/NAD+ level. Current effort is being directed to further investigation of the role of GuaA in S. mutans cellular physiology.
Rex factors are bacterial transcription factors thought to respond to the cellular NAD+/NADH ratio in order to modulate gene expression by differentially binding DNA. To date, Rex factors have been implicated in regulating genes of central metabolism, oxidative stress response, and biofilm formation. The genome of Enterococcus faecalis, a low-GC Gram-positive opportunistic pathogen, encodes EF2638, a putative Rex factor. To study the role of E. faecalis Rex, we purified EF2638 and evaluated its DNA binding activity in vitro. EF2638 was able to bind putative promoter segments of several E. faecalis genes in an NADH-responsive manner, indicating that it represents an authentic Rex factor. Transcriptome analysis of a ΔEF2638 mutant revealed that genes likely to be involved in anaerobic metabolism were upregulated during aerobic growth, and the mutant exhibited an altered NAD+/NADH ratio. The ΔEF2638 mutant also exhibited a growth defect when grown with aeration on several carbon sources, suggesting an impaired ability to cope with oxidative stress. Inclusion of catalase in the medium alleviated the growth defect. H2O2 measurements revealed that the mutant accumulates significantly more H2O2 than wild-type E. faecalis. In summary, EF2638 represents an authentic Rex factor in E. faecalis that influences the production or detoxification of H2O2 in addition to its more familiar role as a regulator of anaerobic gene expression.
NADH oxidase (Nox, encoded by nox) is a flavin-containing enzyme used by the oral pathogen Streptococcus mutans to reduce diatomic oxygen to water while oxidizing NADH to NAD+. The critical nature of Nox is 2-fold: it serves to regenerate NAD+, a carbon cycle metabolite, and to reduce intracellular oxygen, preventing formation of destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS). As oxygen and NAD+ have been shown to modulate the activity of the global transcription factors Spx and Rex, respectively, Nox is potentially poised at a critical junction of two stress regulons. In this study, microarray data showed that either addition of oxygen or loss of nox resulted in altered expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and transport and the upregulation of genes encoding ROS-metabolizing enzymes. Loss of nox also resulted in upregulation of several genes encoding transcription factors and signaling molecules, including the redox-sensing regulator gene rex. Characterization of the nox promoter revealed that nox was regulated by oxygen, through SpxA, and by Rex. These data suggest a regulatory loop in which the roles of nox in reduction of oxygen and regeneration of NAD+ affect the activity levels of Spx and Rex, respectively, and their regulons, which control several genes, including nox, crucial to growth of S. mutans under conditions of oxidative stress.
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.
An alignment of upstream regions of anaerobically induced genes in Staphylococcus aureus revealed the presence of an inverted repeat, corresponding to Rex binding sites in Streptomyces coelicolor. Gel shift experiments of selected upstream regions demonstrated that the redox-sensing regulator Rex of S. aureus binds to this inverted repeat. The binding sequence – TTGTGAAW4TTCACAA – is highly conserved in S. aureus. Rex binding to this sequence leads to the repression of genes located downstream. The binding activity of Rex is enhanced by NAD+ while NADH, which competes with NAD+ for Rex binding, decreases the activity of Rex. The impact of Rex on global protein synthesis and on the activity of fermentation pathways under aerobic and anaerobic conditions was analysed by using a rex-deficient strain. A direct regulatory effect of Rex on the expression of pathways that lead to anaerobic NAD+ regeneration, such as lactate, formate and ethanol formation, nitrate respiration, and ATP synthesis, is verified. Rex can be considered a central regulator of anaerobic metabolism in S. aureus. Since the activity of lactate dehydrogenase enables S. aureus to resist NO stress and thus the innate immune response, our data suggest that deactivation of Rex is a prerequisite for this phenomenon.
Streptococcus mutans produces several enzymes which metabolize sucrose. Three glucosyltransferase genes (gtfB, gtfC, and gtfD) and a single fructosyltransferase gene (ftf) encode enzymes which are important in formation of exopolysaccharides. Mutants of S. mutans V403 carrying single and multiple mutations of the gtfB, gtfC, gtfD, and ftf genes recently have been constructed by allelic exchange in our laboratory. Using selected strains from this panel of mutants, we examined the importance of water-insoluble glucan, water-soluble glucan, and fructan production in cariogenicity while controlling for the effects of strain and species variability. Genetic and biochemical characterization of mutants and assays of glucosyltransferase and fructosyltransferase activities were performed to ensure that the phenotypes of strains coincided with deficiencies predicted by genotype. The young gnotobiotic rat model of cariogenicity was used to assess virulence of the wild-type strain and isogenic mutants. Mutant strains were less virulent than the wild type in almost every location examined for caries on tooth surfaces and level of involvement of lesions (depth and severity). Inactivation of either gtfB and gtfC or ftf dramatically reduced virulence; the subsequent inactivation of gtfD did not enhance the effect of reduced virulence.
Streptococcus mutans is the main pathogenic agent of dental caries. Glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) produced by these bacteria are important virulence factors because they catalyze the extracellular synthesis of glucans that are necessary for bacterial accumulation in the dental biofilm. The diversity of GtfB and GtfC isozymes was analyzed in 44 genotypes of S. mutans that showed a range of abilities to form biofilms in vitro. Several approaches were used to characterize these isozymes, including restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the gtfB and gtfC genes, zymographic analysis of the identified GtfB and GtfC genotypes, and quantitation of isozyme production in immunoblot experiments with specific monoclonal antibodies. A high diversity of gtf genes, patterns of enzymatic activity, and isozyme production was identified among the isolates tested. GtfC and, to a lesser extent, GtfB were produced in significantly higher amounts by strains that had high biofilm-forming ability than by strains with low biofilm-forming ability. Biofilm formation was independent of the GtfB and GtfC genotype. Atypical strains that showed an apparent single Gtf isozyme of intermediate size between GtfB and GtfC were also identified. The results indicate that various expression levels of GtfB and GtfC isozymes are associated with the ability of distinct S. mutans genotypes to grow as biofilms, strengthening the results of previous genetic and biochemical studies performed with laboratory strains. These studies also emphasize the need to identify factors that control gtf gene expression.
Oxygen profoundly affects the composition of oral biofilms. Recently, we showed that exposure of Streptococcus mutans to oxygen strongly inhibits biofilm formation and alters cell surface biogenesis. To begin to dissect the underlying mechanisms by which oxygen affects known virulence traits of S. mutans, transcription profiling was used to show that roughly 5% of the genes of this organism are differentially expressed in response to aeration. Among the most profoundly upregulated genes were autolysis-related genes and those that encode bacteriocins, the ClpB protease chaperone subunit, pyruvate dehydrogenase, the tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes, NADH oxidase enzymes, and certain carbohydrate transporters and catabolic pathways. Consistent with our observation that the ability of S. mutans to form biofilms was severely impaired by oxygen exposure, transcription of the gtfB gene, which encodes one of the primary enzymes involved in the production of water-insoluble, adhesive glucan exopolysaccharides, was down-regulated in cells growing aerobically. Further investigation revealed that transcription of gtfB, but not gtfC, was responsive to oxygen and that aeration causes major changes in the amount and degree of cell association of the Gtf enzymes. Moreover, inactivation of the VicK sensor kinase affected the expression and localization the GtfB and GtfC enzymes. This study provides novel insights into the complex transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulatory networks used by S. mutans to modulate virulence gene expression and exopolysaccharide production in response to changes in oxygen availability.
Glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) catalyze the synthesis of glucans from sucrose and are produced by several species of lactic-acid bacteria. The oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans produces large amounts of glucans through the action of three Gtfs. GtfD produces water-soluble glucan (WSG), GtfB synthesizes water-insoluble glucans (WIG) and GtfC produces mainly WIG but also WSG. These enzymes, especially those synthesizing WIG, are of particular interest because of their role in the formation of dental plaque, an environment where S. mutans can thrive and produce lactic acid, promoting the formation of dental caries. We sequenced the gtfB, gtfC and gtfD genes from several mutans streptococcal strains isolated from the oral cavity of humans and searched for their homologues in strains isolated from chimpanzees and macaque monkeys. The sequence data were analyzed in conjunction with the available Gtf sequences from other bacteria in the genera Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc to gain insights into the evolutionary history of this family of enzymes, with a particular emphasis on S. mutans Gtfs. Our analyses indicate that streptococcal Gtfs arose from a common ancestral progenitor gene, and that they expanded to form two clades according to the type of glucan they synthesize. We also show that the clade of streptococcal Gtfs synthesizing WIG appeared shortly after the divergence of viviparous, dentate mammals, which potentially contributed to the formation of dental plaque and the establishment of several streptococci in the oral cavity. The two S. mutans Gtfs capable of WIG synthesis, GtfB and GtfC, are likely the product of a gene duplication event. We dated this event to coincide with the divergence of the genomes of ancestral early primates. Thus, the acquisition and diversification of S. mutans Gtfs predates modern humans and is unrelated to the increase in dietary sucrose consumption.
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.
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.
Studies of trace metals in drinking water and tooth enamel have suggested a caries-promoting potential for manganese (Mn). Additionally, Mn has been shown to be essential for the expression of mutans streptococci virulence factors such as the glucan-binding lectin (GBL) of Streptococcus sobrinus. The Streptococcus mutans glucan-binding protein (Gbp) GbpC is the functional analogue of the S. sobrinus GBL. S. mutans Gbps have been shown to contribute to biofilm architecture and virulence. This study was undertaken to examine the effects of Mn on the transcription of genes encoding S. mutans Gbps, including gbpC, along with other critical S. mutans virulence genes.
Microarray analyses suggested the potential for an Mn effect on Gbp genes. Further investigation of the Mn effects on selected genes was undertaken by performing Northern blots, Western blots, and RT-PCR under conditions of planktonic and biofilm growth in Mn-depleted media or in media containing 50 μM Mn.
Mn resulted in increased expression of gbpC and gtfB, and decreased expression of wapA, in both planktonic and biofilm cultures. The expression levels of gbpA and gbpD were also decreased in the presence of Mn, but only in biofilms. The expression of gtfC was increased in the presence of Mn only in planktonic cultures. The spaP gene was expressed more highly in Mn-supplemented planktonic cultures but less in Mn-supplemented biofilms.
Mn availability affects the expression of multiple S. mutans genes involved in adhesion and biofilm formation. Furthermore, these effects depend on the growth state of the organism.
Biofilm; Manganese; Streptococcus mutans virulence
Streptococcus mutans is considered one of the primary etiologic agents of dental caries. Previously, we characterized the VicRK two-component signal transduction system, which regulates multiple virulence factors of S. mutans. In this study, we focused on the vicX gene of the vicRKX tricistronic operon. To characterize vicX, we constructed a nonpolar deletion mutation in the vicX coding region in S. mutans UA159. The growth kinetics of the mutant (designated SmuvicX) showed that the doubling time was longer and that there was considerable sensitivity to paraquat-induced oxidative stress. Supplementing a culture of the wild-type UA159 strain with paraquat significantly increased the expression of vicX (P < 0.05, as determined by analysis of variance [ANOVA]), confirming the role of this gene in oxidative stress tolerance in S. mutans. Examination of mutant biofilms revealed architecturally altered cell clusters that were seemingly denser than the wild-type cell clusters. Interestingly, vicX-deficient cells grown in a glucose-supplemented medium exhibited significantly increased glucosyltransferase B/C (gtfB/C) expression compared with the expression in the wild type (P < 0.05, as determined by ANOVA). Moreover, a sucrose-dependent adhesion assay performed using an S. mutans GS5-derived vicX null mutant demonstrated that the adhesiveness of this mutant was enhanced compared with that of the parent strain and isogenic mutants of the parent strain lacking gtfB and/or gtfC. Also, disruption of vicX reduced the genetic transformability of the mutant approximately 10-fold compared with that of the parent strain (P < 0.05, as determined by ANOVA). Collectively, these findings provide insight into important phenotypes controlled by the vicX gene product that can impact S. mutans pathogenicity.
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.
The facultative anaerobe, Bacillus cereus, causes diarrheal diseases in humans. Its ability to deal with oxygen availability is recognized to be critical for pathogenesis. The B. cereus genome comprises a gene encoding a protein with high similarities to the redox regulator, Rex, which is a central regulator of anaerobic metabolism in Bacillus subtilis and other Gram-positive bacteria. Here, we showed that B. cereus rex is monocistronic and down-regulated in the absence of oxygen. The protein encoded by rex is an authentic Rex transcriptional factor since its DNA binding activity depends on the NADH/NAD+ ratio. Rex deletion compromised the ability of B. cereus to cope with external oxidative stress under anaerobiosis while increasing B. cereus resistance against such stress under aerobiosis. The deletion of rex affects anaerobic fermentative and aerobic respiratory metabolism of B. cereus by decreasing and increasing, respectively, the carbon flux through the NADH-recycling lactate pathway. We compared both the cellular proteome and exoproteome of the wild-type and Δrex cells using a high throughput shotgun label-free quantitation approach and identified proteins that are under control of Rex-mediated regulation. Proteomics data have been deposited to the ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD000886. The data suggest that Rex regulates both the cross-talk between metabolic pathways that produce NADH and NADPH and toxinogenesis, especially in oxic conditions.
Apigenin, a potent inhibitor of glucosyltransferase activity, affects the accumulation of Streptococcus mutans biofilms in vitro by reducing the formation of insoluble glucans and enhancing the soluble glucan content of the polysaccharide matrix. In the present study, we investigated the influence of apigenin on gtfB, gtfC, and gtfD expression in S. mutans UA159. Apigenin (0.1 mM) significantly decreased the expression of gtfB and gtfC mRNA (P < 0.05); in contrast, it increased the expression of gtfD in S. mutans growing in the planktonic state. The protein levels of GTF B, GTF C, and GTF D in culture supernatants were also affected; less GTF B and C were detected, whereas the level of GTF D was significantly elevated (P < 0.05). A similar profile of gtf expression was obtained with biofilms, although an elevated concentration (1 mM) of apigenin was required to elicit the effects. The influence of apigenin on gtf gene expression was independent of any effect on GTF activity, did not involve inhibition of growth or effects on pH, and was not affected by addition of sucrose. The data show that apigenin modulates the genetic expression of virulence factors in S. mutans.
Exopolysaccharide synthesis, biofilm formation, and competence are important physiologic functions and virulence factors for Streptococcus mutans. In this study, we report the role of Frp, a transcriptional regulator, on the regulation of these traits crucial to pathogenesis. An Frp-deficient mutant showed decreased transcription of several genes important in virulence, including those encoding fructosyltransferase (Ftf), glucosyltransferase B (GtfB), and GtfC, by reverse transcription and quantitative real-time PCR. Expression of Ftf was decreased in the frp mutant, as assessed by Western blotting as well as by the activity assays. Frp deficiency also inhibited the production of GtfB in the presence of glucose and sucrose as well as the production of GtfC in the presence of glucose. As a consequence of the effects on GtfB and -C, sucrose-induced biofilm formation was decreased in the frp mutant. The expression of competence mediated by the competence-signaling peptide (CSP) system, as assessed by comC gene transcription, was attenuated in the frp mutant. As a result, the transformation efficiency was decreased in the frp mutant but was partially restored by adding synthetic CSP. Transcription of the frp gene was significantly increased in the frp mutant under all conditions tested, indicating that frp transcription is autoregulated. Furthermore, complementation of the frp gene in the frp mutant restored transcription of the affected genes to levels similar to those in the wild-type strain. These results suggest that Frp is a novel pleiotropic effector of multiple cellular functions and is involved in the modulation of exopolysaccharide synthesis, sucrose-dependent biofilm formation, and competence development.
Redox-sensing repressor Rex was previously implicated in the control of anaerobic respiration in response to the cellular NADH/NAD+ levels in Gram-positive bacteria. We utilized the comparative genomics approach to infer candidate Rex-binding DNA motifs and assess the Rex regulon content in 119 genomes from 11 taxonomic groups. Both DNA-binding and NAD-sensing domains are broadly conserved in Rex orthologs identified in the phyla Firmicutes, Thermotogales, Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi, Deinococcus-Thermus, and Proteobacteria. The identified DNA-binding motifs showed significant conservation in these species, with the only exception detected in Clostridia, where the Rex motif deviates in two positions from the generalized consensus, TTGTGAANNNNTTCACAA. Comparative analysis of candidate Rex sites revealed remarkable variations in functional repertoires of candidate Rex-regulated genes in various microorganisms. Most of the reconstructed regulatory interactions are lineage specific, suggesting frequent events of gain and loss of regulator binding sites in the evolution of Rex regulons. We identified more than 50 novel Rex-regulated operons encoding functions that are essential for resumption of the NADH:NAD+ balance. The novel functional role of Rex in the control of the central carbon metabolism and hydrogen production genes was validated by in vitro DNA binding assays using the TM0169 protein in the hydrogen-producing bacterium Thermotoga maritima.
The production of water-insoluble glucan (WIG) enables Streptococcus mutans to survive and persist in the oral niche. WIG is produced from sucrose by glucosyltransferase encoded tandemly by the highly homologous gtfB and gtfC genes. Conversely, a single hybrid gene from the endogenous recombination of gtfB and gtfC is easily generated using RecA, resulting in S. mutans UA159 WIG− (rate of ∼1.0 × 10−3). The pneumococcus recA gene is regulated as a late competence gene. comX gene mutations did not lead to the appearance of WIG− cells. The biofilm collected from the flow cell had more WIG− cells than among the planktonic cells. Among the planktonic cells, WIG− cells appeared after 16 h and increased ∼10-fold after 32 h of cultivation, suggesting an increase in planktonic WIG− cells after longer culture. The strain may be derived from the biofilm environment. In coculture with donor WIG+ and recipient WIG− cells, the recipient cells reverted to WIG+ and acquired an intact gtfBC region from the environment, indicating that the uptake of extracellular DNA resulted in the phenotypic change. Here we demonstrate that endogenous DNA rearrangement and uptake of extracellular DNA generate WIG− cells and that both are induced by the same signal transducer, the com system. Our findings may help in understanding how S. mutans can adapt to the oral environment and may explain the evolution of S. mutans.
A glucosyltransferase (GTF) gene, designated gtfC, was cloned from Streptococcus mutans LM7. Its gene product was detected by screening a bacteriophage lambda library with rabbit antiserum raised against S. mutans LM7 extracellular proteins. DNA isolated from the immunopositive recombinant phage revealed two S. mutans chromosomal EcoRI fragment inserts, 8.1 and 4.7 kilobase pairs in size. Escherichia coli minicell analyses revealed the approximate position and direction of transcription of the gtfC gene. The gene product was determined to be a polypeptide of about 150 kilodaltons which synthesized a water-soluble glucan. Restriction endonuclease mapping and DNA hybridization indicated a repeated region of DNA corresponding to a portion of the coding region of gtfC immediately downstream from the intact gtfC locus on the chromosome. A 300-base-pair gtfC-specific probe showed that the gene and the putative duplicated sequence were present in S. mutans serotypes c, e, and f, but not in other related oral streptococci which had GTF activity. In addition, the gtfC determinant displayed homology to sequences corresponding to the carboxy-terminal coding region of a gene (gtfB) encoding a GTF activity that synthesized water-insoluble glucans. These data suggest that at least one class of GTF genes may be present in multiple copies in S. mutans and, further, that GTF genes may contain conserved sequences internal to their coding regions.
The Streptococci are the pioneer strains in plaque formation and Streptococcus mutans are the main etiological agent of dental plaque and caries. In general, biofilm formation is a step-wise process, which begins by adhesion of planktonic cells to the surfaces. Evidences show that expression of glucosyltransferase B and C (gtfB and gtfC) and fructosyltransferase (ftf) genes play critical role in initial adhesion of S. mutans to the tooth surface which results in formation of dental plaques and consequently caries and other periodontal disease.
Materials and Methods:
The aim of this study was to determine the effect of biosurfactants produced by a probiotic strain; Lactobacillus casei (ATCC39392) on gene expression profile of gftB/C and tft of S. mutans (ATCC35668) using quantitative real-time PCR.
The application of the prepared biosurfactant caused dramatic down regulation of all the three genes under study. The reduction in gene expression was statistically highly significant (for gtfB, P > 0.0002; for gtfC, P > 0.0063, and for ftf, P > 0.0057).
Considerable downregulation of all three genes in the presence of the prepared biosurfactant comparing to untreated controls is indicative of successful inhibition of influential genes in bacterial adhesion phenomena. In view of the importance of glucosyltransferase gene products for S.mutans attachment to the tooth surface which is the initial important step in biofilm production and dental caries, further research in this field may lead to an applicable alternative for successful with least adverse side effects in dental caries prevention.
Biosurfactants; Lactobacillus casei; oral streptococci; probiotics
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.
Streptococcus mutans is implicated as a major etiological agent in human dental caries, and one of the important virulence properties of this organism is its ability to form biofilms (dental plaque) on tooth surfaces. We examined the role of autoinducer-2 (AI-2) on S. mutans biofilm formation by constructing a GS-5 luxS-null mutant. Biofilm formation by the luxS mutant in 0.5% sucrose defined medium was found to be markedly attenuated compared to the wild type. Scanning electron microscopy also revealed that biofilms of the luxS mutant formed larger clumps in sucrose medium compared to the parental strain. Therefore, the expression of glucosyltransferase genes was examined and the gtfB and gtfC genes, but not the gtfD gene, in the luxS mutant were upregulated in the mid-log growth phase. Furthermore, we developed a novel two-compartment system to monitor AI-2 production by oral streptococci and periodontopathic bacteria. The biofilm defect of the luxS mutant was complemented by strains of S. gordonii, S. sobrinus, and S. anginosus; however, it was not complemented by S. oralis, S. salivarius, or S. sanguinis. Biofilm formation by the luxS mutant was also complemented by Porphyromonas gingivalis 381 and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Y4 but not by a P. gingivalis luxS mutant. These results suggest that the regulation of the glucosyltransferase genes required for sucrose-dependent biofilm formation is regulated by AI-2. Furthermore, these results provide further confirmation of previous proposals that quorum sensing via AI-2 may play a significant role in oral biofilm formation.
10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid is the most active and unique component to the royal jelly that has antimicrobial properties. Streptococcus mutans is associated with pathogenesis of oral cavity, gingivoperiodontal diseases and bacteremia following dental manipulations. In the oral cavity, S. mutans colonize the soft tissues including tongue, palate, and buccal mucosa. When considering the role of supragingival dental plaque in caries, the proportion of acid producing bacteria (particularly S. mutans), has direct relevance to the pathogenicity of the plaque. The genes that encode glucosyltransferases (gtfs) especially gtfB and gtfC are important in S. mutans colonization and pathogenesis. This study investigated the hydroxy-decenoic acid (HDA) effects on gtfB and gtfC expression and S. mutans adherence to cells surfaces.
Streptococcus mutans was treated by different concentrations of HPLC purified HDA supplied by Iran Beekeeping and Veterinary Association. Real time RT-PCR and western blot assays were conducted to evaluate gtfB and gtfC genes transcription and translation before and after HDA treatment. The bacterial attachment to the cell surfaces was evaluated microscopically.
500 μg ml-1 of HDA inhibited gtfB and gtfC mRNA transcription and its expression. The same concentration of HDA decreased 60% the adherence of S. mutans to the surface of P19 cells.
Hydroxy-decenoic acid prevents gtfB and gtfC expression efficiently in the bactericide sub-concentrations and it could effectively reduce S. mutans adherence to the cell surfaces. In the future, therapeutic approaches to affecting S. mutans could be selective and it’s not necessary to put down the oral flora completely.
Biofilm; Caries; Glucosyltransferase; Streptococcus
Streptococcus 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.