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.
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.
NADH dehydrogenase is a key component of the respiratory chain. It catalyzes the oxidation of NADH by transferring electrons to ubiquinone and establishes a proton motive force across the cell membrane. The yjlD (renamed ndh) gene of Bacillus subtilis is predicted to encode an enzyme similar to the NADH dehydrogenase II of Escherichia coli, encoded by the ndh gene. We have shown that the yjlC-ndh operon is negatively regulated by YdiH (renamed Rex), a homolog of Rex in Streptomyces coelicolor, and a redox-sensing transcriptional regulator that responds to the NADH/NAD+ ratio. The ndh gene regulates expression of the yjlC-ndh operon, as indicated by the fact that mutation in ndh causes a higher NADH/NAD+ ratio. An in vitro study showed that Rex binds to the downstream region of the yjlC-ndh promoter and that NAD+ enhances the binding of Rex to the putative Rex-binding sites in the yjlC-ndh operon as well as in the cydABCD operon. These results indicated that Rex and Ndh together form a regulatory loop which functions to prevent a large fluctuation in the NADH/NAD+ ratio in B. subtilis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 complete nucleotide sequence was determined for the Streptococcus downei (previously Streptococcus sobrinus) MFe28 gtfS gene which specifies a glucosyltransferase (GTF-S) producing water-soluble glucan. A single open reading frame which encodes a mature protein with a molecular weight of 147,408 (1,328 amino acids) and a putative signal peptide 36 or 37 amino acids in length was detected. GTF-S shares extensive sequence similarity with GTF-I (gtfI) from S. downei and GTF-I (gtfB) and GTF-SI (gtfC) from Streptococcus mutans. GTF-S contains a highly conserved enzymatic domain and C-terminal repeated sequences which appear to be involved in glucan binding. Comparison of the deduced GTF-S protein sequence with other sequenced GTF genes of mutans streptococci revealed that these C-terminal repeats occurred in all cases, although the patterns of repeated sequences varied with respect to each other and to the glucan-binding protein of S. mutans. GTF-S contains four C-terminal repeat sequences ranging from 49 to 51 amino acids in length and a partial repeat of 13 amino acids. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the glucan produced by GTF-S revealed that the product consisted of more than 90% alpha-1,6-linked glucosyl residues.
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
Human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) encodes a 27-kDa trans-acting gene product (Rex) which is involved in the regulated expression of transcripts coding for the viral structural proteins. We used oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis to generate a series of mutant HTLV-I rex genes. Transient expression experiments demonstrated that 3 of 28 mutant proteins are functionally inactive on the homologous HTLV-I rex response element, whereas an additional 2 mutant proteins are functionally inactive on the heterologous human immunodeficiency virus type 1 rev response element. One of these mutants is able to suppress the function of the wild-type HTLV-I Rex protein in trans on the homologous rex response element sequence. Furthermore, all of these mutants are able to inhibit Rex function on the heterologous rev response element sequence. Intriguingly, only three of these mutants are able to inhibit the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Rev protein in a dominant-negative manner.
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.
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.
Streptococcus mutans is an important etiological agent of dental caries in humans. The extracellular polysaccharides synthesized by cell-associated glucosyltransferases (encoded by gtfBC) from sucrose have been recognized as one of the important virulence factors that promote cell aggregation and adherence to teeth, leading to dental plaque formation. In this study, we have characterized the effect of CovR, a global response regulator, on glucosyltransferase expression. Inactivation of covR in strain UA159 resulted in a marked increase in the GtfB and GtfC proteins, as analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. With the use of a transcriptional reporter system of a single chromosomal copy of the PgtfB-gusA and PgtfC-gusA fusions, we confirmed the transcriptional regulation of these promoters by CovR. By in vitro electrophoretic mobility shift assays with purified CovR protein, we showed that CovR regulates these promoters directly. DNase I footprinting analyses suggest that CovR binds to large regions on these promoters near the transcription start sites. Taken together, our results indicate that CovR negatively regulates the expression of the gtfB and gtfC genes by directly binding to the promoter region.
The intact gtfC gene from Streptococcus mutans GS-5 was isolated in Escherichia coli in plasmid vector pUC18. The glucosyltransferase activity expressed by the gene synthesized both low-molecular-weight water-soluble glucan and insoluble glucan in a primer-independent manner. Purification of the enzyme by procedures that minimize proteolytic digestion yielded a purified preparation with a molecular weight of 140,000. Insertional inactivation of the gtfC gene with a streptococcal erythromycin resistance gene fragment followed by transformation of strain GS-5 suggested that the gtfC gene product was required for sucrose-dependent colonization in vitro. In addition, evidence for the presence of a third gtf gene coding for soluble glucan synthesis was obtained following the construction of mutants containing deletions of both the gtfB and gtfC genes.
The role of each of the Streptococcus mutans gtf genes coding for glucan synthesis in cariogenesis was evaluated by using strain UA130 in the specific-pathogen-free (SPF) rat model system. Mutants defective in either or both of the genes required for insoluble glucan synthesis, the gtfB and gtfC genes, exhibited markedly reduced levels of smooth-surface carious lesions relative to that of the parental organism. Likewise, the mutant defective in the gtfD gene coding for the glucosyltransferase-S enzyme synthesizing water-soluble glucans also produced significantly fewer smooth-surface lesions than strain UA130. None of these mutations markedly altered the rate of sulcal caries induction relative to that of the parental organism. In addition, a mutant of strain UA130 defective in the gtfA gene was reexamined in the SPF rat model. In contrast to previous results from a gnotobiotic rat system, these mutants also induced significantly fewer smooth-surface carious lesions compared with that by strain UA130. These results suggest that all four genes are important for smooth-surface caries formation. Furthermore, these results are discussed relative to the differences in the diets utilized in the SPF and gnotobiotic rat model systems for assessing the virulence factors of S. mutans.
Glucan plays a central role in sucrose-dependent biofilm formation by the
dental pathogen Streptococcus mutans. This organism synthesizes
several proteins capable of binding glucan. These are divided into the
glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) that catalyze the synthesis of glucan and the
non-Gtf glucan-binding proteins (Gbps). The biological significance of the Gbps
has not been thoroughly defined, but studies suggest these proteins influence
virulence and play a role in maintaining biofilm architecture by linking
bacteria and extracellular molecules of glucan. We engineered a panel of Gbp
mutants, targeting GbpA, GbpC, and GbpD, in which each gene encoding a Gbp was
deleted individually and in combination. These strains were then analyzed by
confocal microscopy and the biofilm properties quantified by the biofilm
quantification software COMSTAT. All biofilms produced by mutant strains lost
significant depth, but the basis for the reduction in height depended on which
particular Gbp was missing. The loss of the cell-bound GbpC appeared dominant as
might be expected based on losing the principal receptor for glucan. The loss of
an extracellular Gbp, either GbpA or GbpD, also profoundly changed the biofilm
architecture, each in a unique manner.
The importance of Streptococcus mutans in the etiology and pathogenesis of dental caries is certainly controversial, in part because excessive attention is paid to the numbers of S. mutans and acid production while the matrix within dental plaque has been neglected. S. mutans does not always dominate within plaque; many organisms are equally acidogenic and aciduric. It is also recognized that glucosyltransferases from S. mutans (Gtfs) play critical roles in the development of virulent dental plaque. Gtfs adsorb to enamel synthesizing glucans in situ, providing sites for avid colonization by microorganisms and an insoluble matrix for plaque. Gtfs also adsorb to surfaces of other oral microorganisms converting them to glucan producers. S. mutans expresses 3 genetically distinct Gtfs; each appears to play a different but overlapping role in the formation of virulent plaque. GtfC is adsorbed to enamel within pellicle whereas GtfB binds avidly to bacteria promoting tight cell clustering, and enhancing cohesion of plaque. GtfD forms a soluble, readily metabolizable polysaccharide and acts as a primer for GtfB. The behavior of soluble Gtfs does not mirror that observed with surface-adsorbed enzymes. Furthermore, the structure of polysaccharide matrix changes over time as a result of the action of mutanases and dextranases within plaque. Gtfs at distinct loci offer chemotherapeutic targets to prevent caries. Nevertheless, agents that inhibit Gtfs in solution frequently have a reduced or no effect on adsorbed enzymes. Clearly, conformational changes and reactions of Gtfs on surfaces are complex and modulate the pathogenesis of dental caries in situ, deserving further investigation.
Biofilms; Dental caries; Extracellular matrix; Glucosyltransferases; Polysaccharides; Streptococcus mutans
Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and HTLV-2 are complex retroviruses that persist in the host, eventually causing leukemia and neurological disease in a small percentage of infected individuals. In addition to structural and enzymatic proteins, HTLV encodes regulatory (Tax and Rex) and accessory (open reading frame I and II) proteins. The viral Tax and Rex proteins positively regulate virus production. Tax activates viral and cellular transcription to promote T-cell growth and, ultimately, malignant transformation. Rex acts posttranscriptionally to facilitate cytoplasmic expression of viral mRNAs that encode the structural and enzymatic gene products, thus positively controlling virion expression. Here, we report that both HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 have evolved accessory genes to encode proteins that act as negative regulators of both Tax and Rex. HTLV-1 p30II and the related HTLV-2 p28II inhibit virion production by binding to and retaining tax/rex mRNA in the nucleus. Reduction of viral replication in a cell carrying the provirus may allow escape from immune recognition in an infected individual. These data are consistent with the critical role of these proteins in viral persistence and pathogenesis in animal models of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 infection.
The Rex protein of the human T-cell leukemia virus type II (HTLV-II), Rex-II, plays a central role in regulating the expression of the structural genes of this retrovirus. Rex-II acts posttranscriptionally by inducing the cytoplasmic expression of the incompletely spliced viral mRNAs that encode the Gag and Env structural proteins and the enzymes derived from the pol gene. We now define a 295-nucleotide cis-acting regulatory element within the 3' long terminal repeat of HTLV-II that is required for the effects of Rex-II. This Rex-II response element (RexIIRE) corresponds to a predicted, highly stable RNA secondary structure and functions when present in the sense but not in the antisense orientation. The RexIIRE confers responsiveness not only to Rex-II but also to the Rex protein of HTLV-I. Deletion and substitution mutagenesis of the RexIIRE permitted identification of a small subregion within the larger element critically required for Rex-II responsiveness and further suggested that the structurally distinct RexIIREs generated from the 5' and 3' long terminal repeats of HTLV-II may differentially regulate the cytoplasmic expression of unspliced gag-pol and singly spliced env mRNAs. While the Rev protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 fails to function via the RexIIRE, the Rex-II protein, like Rex-I, can functionally replace the Rev protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 via its interaction with the Rev response element (RevRE).
The rml genes are involved in dTDP-rhamnose synthesis in Streptococcus mutans. A gene fusion between gtfB and gtfC, which both encode extracellular water-insoluble glucan-synthesizing enzymes, accompanied by inactivation of the rml genes was observed for cells grown in the presence of sucrose. The survival rates of rml mutants isolated in the absence of sucrose were drastically reduced in the presence of sucrose. The rates were consistent with the frequency of spontaneous gene fusions between gtfB and gtfC, suggesting that the spontaneous recombinant organisms were selected in the presence of sucrose. The rml mutants with a gtfB-gtfC fusion gene had markedly reduced water-insoluble glucan synthetic activity and lost the ability to colonize glass surfaces in the presence of sucrose. These results suggest that the rml mutants of S. mutans, which are defective in dTDP-rhamnose synthesis, can survive only in the absence of water-insoluble glucan synthesis.