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1.  Damage of Streptococcus mutans biofilms by carolacton, a secondary metabolite from the myxobacterium Sorangium cellulosum 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:199.
Streptococcus mutans is a major pathogen in human dental caries. One of its important virulence properties is the ability to form biofilms (dental plaque) on tooth surfaces. Eradication of such biofilms is extremely difficult. We therefore screened a library of secondary metabolites from myxobacteria for their ability to damage biofilms of S. mutans.
Here we show that carolacton, a secondary metabolite isolated from Sorangium cellulosum, has high antibacterial activity against biofilms of S. mutans. Planktonic growth of bacteria was only slightly impaired and no acute cytotoxicity against mouse fibroblasts could be observed. Carolacton caused death of S. mutans biofilm cells, elongation of cell chains, and changes in cell morphology. At a concentration of 10 nM carolacton, biofilm damage was already at 35% under anaerobic conditions. A knock-out mutant for comD, encoding a histidine kinase specific for the competence stimulating peptide (CSP), was slightly less sensitive to carolacton than the wildtype. Expression of the competence related alternate sigma factor ComX was strongly reduced by carolacton, as determined by a pcomX luciferase reporter strain.
Carolacton possibly interferes with the density dependent signalling systems in S. mutans and may represent a novel approach for the prevention of dental caries.
PMCID: PMC2915981  PMID: 20659313
2.  Characterization of mleR, a positive regulator of malolactic fermentation and part of the acid tolerance response in Streptococcus mutans 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:58.
One of the key virulence determinants of Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiological agent of human dental caries, is its strong acid tolerance. The acid tolerance response (ATR) of S. mutans comprises several mechanisms that are induced at low pH and allow the cells to quickly adapt to a lethal pH environment. Malolactic fermentation (MLF) converts L-malate to L-lactate and carbon dioxide and furthermore regenerates ATP, which is used to translocate protons across the membrane. Thus, MLF may contribute to the aciduricity of S. mutans but has not been associated with the ATR so far.
Here we show that the malolactic fermentation (mle) genes are under the control of acid inducible promoters which are induced within the first 30 minutes upon acid shock in the absence of malate. Thus, MLF is part of the early acid tolerance response of S. mutans. However, acidic conditions, the presence of the regulator MleR and L-malate were required to achieve maximal expression of all genes, including mleR itself. Deletion of mleR resulted in a decreased capacity to carry out MLF and impaired survival at lethal pH in the presence of L-malate. Gel retardation assays indicated the presence of multiple binding sites for MleR. Differences in the retardation patterns occurred in the presence of L-malate, thus demonstrating its role as co-inducer for transcriptional regulation.
This study shows that the MLF gene cluster is part of the early acid tolerance response in S. mutans and is induced by both low pH and L-malate.
PMCID: PMC2834670  PMID: 20178568
3.  Metabolic fluxes in the central carbon metabolism of Dinoroseobacter shibae and Phaeobacter gallaeciensis, two members of the marine Roseobacter clade 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:209.
In the present work the central carbon metabolism of Dinoroseobacter shibae and Phaeobacter gallaeciensis was studied at the level of metabolic fluxes. These two strains belong to the marine Roseobacter clade, a dominant bacterial group in various marine habitats, and represent surface-associated, biofilm-forming growth (P. gallaeciensis) and symbiotic growth with eukaryotic algae (D. shibae). Based on information from recently sequenced genomes, a rich repertoire of pathways has been identified in the carbon core metabolism of these organisms, but little is known about the actual contribution of the various reactions in vivo.
Using 13C labelling techniques in specifically designed experiments, it could be shown that glucose-grown cells of D. shibae catabolise the carbon source exclusively via the Entner-Doudoroff pathway, whereas alternative routes of glycolysis and the pentose phosphate pathway are obviously utilised for anabolic purposes only. Enzyme assays confirmed this flux pattern and link the lack of glycolytic flux to the absence of phosphofructokinase activity. The previously suggested formation of phosphoenolpyruvate from pyruvate during mixotrophic CO2 assimilation was found to be inactive under the conditions studied. Moreover, it could be shown that pyruvate carboxylase is involved in CO2 assimilation and that the cyclic respiratory mode of the TCA cycle is utilised. Interestingly, the use of intracellular pathways was highly similar for P. gallaeciensis.
The present study reveals the first insight into pathway utilisation within the Roseobacter group. Fluxes through major intracellular pathways of the central carbon metabolism, which are closely linked to the various important traits found for the Roseobacter clade, could be determined. The close similarity of fluxes between the two physiologically rather different species might provide the first indication of more general key properties among members of the Roseobacter clade which may explain their enormous success in the marine realm.
PMCID: PMC2761930  PMID: 19788729
4.  Potential for luxS related signalling in marine bacteria and production of autoinducer-2 in the genus Shewanella 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:13.
The autoinducer-2 (AI-2) group of signalling molecules are produced by both Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria as the by-product of a metabolic transformation carried out by the LuxS enzyme. They are the only non species-specific quorum sensing compounds presently known in bacteria. The luxS gene coding for the AI-2 synthase enzyme was found in many important pathogens. Here, we surveyed its occurrence in a collection of 165 marine isolates belonging to abundant marine phyla using conserved degenerated PCR primers and sequencing of selected positive bands to determine if the presence of the luxS gene is phylogenetically conserved or dependent on the habitat.
The luxS gene was not present in any of the Alphaproteobacteria (n = 71) and Bacteroidetes strains (n = 29) tested; by contrast, these bacteria harboured the sahH gene, coding for an alternative enzyme for the detoxification of S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) in the activated methyl cycle. Within the Gammaproteobacteria (n = 76), luxS was found in all Shewanella, Vibrio and Alteromonas isolates and some Pseudoalteromonas and Halomonas species, while sahH was detected in Psychrobacter strains. A number of Gammaproteobacteria (n = 27) appeared to have neither the luxS nor the sahH gene. We then studied the production of AI-2 in the genus Shewanella using the Vibrio harveyi bioassay. All ten species of Shewanella tested produced a pronounced peak of AI-2 towards the end of the exponential growth phase in several media investigated. The maximum of AI-2 activity was different in each Shewanella species, ranging from 4% to 46% of the positive control.
The data are consistent with those of fully sequenced bacterial genomes and show that the potential for luxS related signalling is dependent on phylogenetic affiliation rather than ecological niche and is largest in certain groups of Gammaproteobacteria in the marine environment. This is the first report on AI-2 production in Shewanella species; its signalling role in these organisms remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC2233627  PMID: 18215278
5.  Functional profiling of mercuric reductase (mer A) genes in biofilm communities of a technical scale biocatalyzer 
BMC Microbiology  2003;3:22.
Bacterial mercury resistance is based on enzymatic reduction of ionic mercury to elemental mercury and has recently been demonstrated to be applicable for industrial wastewater clean-up. The long-term monitoring of such biocatalyser systems requires a cultivation independent functional community profiling method targeting the key enzyme of the process, the merA gene coding for the mercuric reductase. We report on the development of a profiling method for merA and its application to monitor changes in the functional diversity of the biofilm community of a technical scale biocatalyzer over 8 months of on-site operation.
Based on an alignment of 30 merA sequences from Gram negative bacteria, conserved primers were designed for amplification of merA fragments with an optimized PCR protocol. The resulting amplicons of approximately 280 bp were separated by thermogradient gelelectrophoresis (TGGE), resulting in strain specific fingerprints for mercury resistant Gram negative isolates with different merA sequences. The merA profiling of the biofilm community from a technical biocatalyzer showed persistence of some and loss of other inoculum strains as well as the appearance of new bands, resulting in an overall increase of the functional diversity of the biofilm community. One predominant new band of the merA community profile was also detected in a biocatalyzer effluent isolate, which was identified as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The isolated strain showed lower mercury reduction rates in liquid culture than the inoculum strains but was apparently highly competitive in the biofilm environment of the biocatalyzer where moderate mercury levels were prevailing.
The merA profiling technique allowed to monitor the ongoing selection for better adapted strains during the operation of a biocatalyzer and to direct their subsequent isolation. In such a way, a predominant mercury reducing Ps. aeruginosa strain was identified by its unique mercuric reductase gene.
PMCID: PMC270059  PMID: 14577839

Results 1-5 (5)