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1.  Changes in Biochemical and Phenotypic Properties of Streptococcus mutans during Growth with Aeration▿ † 
Oxygen has a potent influence on the expression of genes and the activity of physiological and biochemical pathways in bacteria. We have found that oxygen significantly altered virulence-related phenotypic properties of Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiological agent of human dental caries. Transport of glucose, fructose, or mannose by the sugar:phosphotransferase system was significantly enhanced by growth under aerobic conditions, whereas aeration caused an extended lag phase and slower growth of S. mutans in medium containing glucose, fructose, or mannose as the carbohydrate source. Aeration resulted in a decrease in the glycolytic rate and enhanced the production of intracellular storage polysaccharides. Although aeration decreased the acid tolerance of S. mutans, aerobically grown cells had higher F-ATPase activity. Aeration altered biofilm architecture but did not change the ability of S. mutans to interact with salivary agglutinin. Growth in air resulted in enhanced cell-associated glucosyltransferase (Gtf) activity at the expense of cell-free Gtf activity. These results demonstrate that S. mutans can dramatically alter its pathogenic potential in response to exposure to oxygen, suggesting that the phenotype of the organism may be highly variable in the human oral cavity depending on the maturity of the dental plaque biofilm.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02367-08
PMCID: PMC2675223  PMID: 19251884
2.  CcpA Regulates Central Metabolism and Virulence Gene Expression in Streptococcus mutans▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(7):2340-2349.
CcpA globally regulates transcription in response to carbohydrate availability in many gram-positive bacteria, but its role in Streptococcus mutans remains enigmatic. Using the fructan hydrolase (fruA) gene of S. mutans as a model, we demonstrated that CcpA plays a direct role in carbon catabolite repression (CCR). Subsequently, the expression of 170 genes was shown to be differently expressed (≥2-fold) in glucose-grown wild-type (UA159) and CcpA-deficient (TW1) strains (P ≤ 0.001). However, there were differences in expression of only 96 genes between UA159 and TW1 when cells were cultivated with the poorly repressing substrate galactose. Interestingly, 90 genes were expressed differently in wild-type S. mutans when glucose- and galactose-grown cells were compared, but the expression of 515 genes was altered in the CcpA-deficient strain in a similar comparison. Overall, our results supported the hypothesis that CcpA has a major role in CCR and regulation of gene expression but revealed that in S. mutans there is a substantial CcpA-independent network that regulates gene expression in response to the carbohydrate source. Based on the genetic studies, biochemical and physiological experiments demonstrated that loss of CcpA impacts the ability of S. mutans to transport and grow on selected sugars. Also, the CcpA-deficient strain displayed an enhanced capacity to produce acid from intracellular stores of polysaccharides, could grow faster at pH 5.5, and could acidify the environment more rapidly and to a greater extent than the parental strain. Thus, CcpA directly modulates the pathogenic potential of S. mutans through global control of gene expression.
doi:10.1128/JB.01237-07
PMCID: PMC2293215  PMID: 18223086
3.  Role of Urease Enzymes in Stability of a 10-Species Oral Biofilm Consortium Cultivated in a Constant-Depth Film Fermenter 
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(12):7188-7192.
Using a 10-species oral biofilm consortium and defined mutants, we show that high-level capacity to generate ammonia from a common salivary substrate is needed to maintain community diversity. This model appears to be suitable for the study of the effects of individual genetic determinants on the ecology of oral biofilms.
doi:10.1128/IAI.71.12.7188-7192.2003
PMCID: PMC308945  PMID: 14638814

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