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author:("Shi, wenchuan")
1.  The cia Operon of Streptococcus mutans Encodes a Unique Component Required for Calcium-Mediated Autoregulation 
Molecular microbiology  2008;70(1):112-126.
Streptococcus mutans is a primary pathogen for dental caries in humans. CiaR and CiaH of S. mutans comprise a two-component signal transduction system (TCS) involved in regulating various virulent factors. However, the signal that triggers the CiaRH response remains unknown. In this study, we show that calcium is a signal for regulation of the ciaRH operon, and that a double-glycine-containing small peptide encoded within the ciaRH operon (renamed ciaX) mediates this regulation. CiaX contains a serine-aspartate (SD) domain that is shared by calcium-binding proteins. A markerless in-frame deletion of ciaX reduced ciaRH operon expression and diminished the calcium repression of operon transcription. Point mutations of the SD-domain resulted in the same phenotype as the in-frame deletion, indicating that the SD-domain is required for CiaX function. Further characterization of ciaX demonstrated that it is involved in calcium mediated biofilm formation. Furthermore, inactivation of ciaR or ciaH led to the same phenotype as the in-frame deletion of ciaX, suggesting that all three genes are involved in the same regulatory pathway. Sequence analysis and real-time RT-PCR identified a putative CiaR binding site upstream of ciaX. We conclude that the ciaXRH operon is a three-component, self-regulatory system modulating cellular functions in response to calcium.
PMCID: PMC2955730  PMID: 18681938
2.  PilA localization affects extracellular polysaccharide production and fruiting body formation in Myxococcus xanthus 
Molecular microbiology  2010;76(6):1500-1513.
Myxococcus xanthus is a gram-negative bacterium capable of complex developmental processes involving vegetative swarming and fruiting body formation. Social (S-) gliding motility, one of the two motility systems employed by M. xanthus, requires at least two cell surface structures: type IV pili (TFP) and extracellular polysaccharides (EPS). Extended TFP which are composed of thousands of copies of PilA retract upon binding to EPS and thereby pull the cell forward. TFP also act as external sensor to regulate EPS production. In this study, we generated a random PilA mutant library and identified one derivative, SW1066, which completely failed to undergo developmental processes. Detailed characterization revealed that SW1066 produced very little EPS but wild-type amounts of PilA. These mutated PilA subunits, however, are unable to assemble into functional TFP despite their ability to localize to the membrane. By preventing the mutated PilA of SW1066 to translocate from the cytoplasm to the membrane, fruiting body formation and EPS production was restored to the levels observed in mutant strains lacking PilA. This apparent connection between PilA membrane accumulation and reduction in surface EPS implies that specific cellular PilA localization are required to maintain the EPS level necessary to sustain normal S-motilityin M. xanthus.
PMCID: PMC2935901  PMID: 20444090
Myxococcus xanthus; type four pili; PilA; extracellular polysaccharide
3.  The Fusobacterium nucleatum Outer Membrane Protein RadD Is an Arginine-Inhibitable Adhesin Required for Inter-Species Adherence and the Structured Architecture of Multi-Species Biofilm 
Molecular microbiology  2008;71(1):35-47.
A defining characteristic of the suspected periodontal pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum is its ability to adhere to a plethora of oral bacteria. This distinguishing feature is suggested to play an important role in oral biofilm formation and pathogenesis, with fusobacteria proposed to serve as central “bridging organisms” in the architecture of the oral biofilm bringing together species which would not interact otherwise. Previous studies indicate that these bacterial interactions are mediated by galactose- or arginine-inhibitable adhesins although genetic evidence for the role and nature of these proposed adhesins remains elusive. To characterize these adhesins at the molecular level, the genetically transformable F. nucleatum strain ATCC 23726 was screened for adherence properties, and arginine inhibitable adhesion was evident, while galactose-inhibitable adhesion was not detected. Six potential arginine binding proteins were isolated from the membrane fraction of F. nucleatum ATCC 23726 and identified via mass spectroscopy as members of the outer membrane family of proteins in F. nucleatum. Inactivation of the genes encoding these six candidates for arginine-inhibitable adhesion and two additional homologues revealed that only a mutant derivative carrying an insertion in Fn1526 (now designated as radD) demonstrated significantly decreased co-aggregation with representatives of the Gram-positive “early oral colonizers”. Lack of the 350 kDa outer membrane protein encoded by radD resulted in the failure to form the extensive structured biofilm observed with the parent strain when grown in the presence of Streptococcus sanguinis ATCC 10556. These findings indicate that radD is responsible for arginine-inhibitable adherence of F. nucleatum and provides definitive molecular evidence that F. nucleatum adhesins play a vital role in inter-species adherence and multispecies biofilm formation.
PMCID: PMC2741168  PMID: 19007407
Fusobacterium nucleatum; RadD. Arginine; Adhesin; Biofilm; Co-aggregation
4.  Coordinated bacteriocin production and competence development: a possible mechanism for taking up DNA from neighbouring species 
Molecular microbiology  2005;57(2):392-404.
It is important to ensure DNA availability when bacterial cells develop competence. Previous studies in Streptococcus pneumoniae demonstrated that the competence-stimulating peptide (CSP) induced autolysin production and cell lysis of its own non-competent cells, suggesting a possible active mechanism to secure a homologous DNA pool for uptake and recombination. In this study, we found that in Streptococcus mutans CSP induced coordinated expression of competence and mutacin production genes. This mutacin (mutacin IV) is a non-lantibiotic bacteriocin which kills closely related Streptococcal species such as S. gordonii. In mixed cultures of S. mutans and S. gordonii harbouring a shuttle plasmid, plasmid DNA transfer from S. gordonii to S. mutans was observed in a CSP and mutacin IV-dependent manner. Further analysis demonstrated an increased DNA release from S. gordonii upon addition of the partially purified mutacin IV extract. On the basis of these findings, we propose that Streptococcus mutans, which resides in a multispecies oral bio-film, may utilize the competence-induced bacteriocin production to acquire transforming DNA from other species living in the same ecological niche. This hypothesis is also consistent with a well-known phenomenon that a large genomic diversity exists among different S. mutans strains. This diversity may have resulted from extensive horizontal gene transfer.
PMCID: PMC1262684  PMID: 15978073

Results 1-4 (4)