Comparison of glucan-binding proteins in cariogenicity of Streptococcus mutans

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Streptococcus mutans has been implicated as a primary causative agent of dental caries in humans. Bacterial components associated with the adhesion phase of S. mutans include cell-associated and cell-free glucosyltransferases (GTFs), as well as protein antigen c and proteins that bind glucan. At least four types of S. mutans glucan-binding protein (Gbp) have been identified; GbpA, GbpB, GbpC and GbpD. In the present study, GbpA-, GbpB- and GbpC-deficient mutants (AD1, BD1 and CD1, respectively) were constructed, and their cariogenic properties were evaluated by comparing them to those of their parent strain MT8148. All of the Gbp mutants showed lower levels of dextran binding, while the sucrose-dependent adhesion levels of AD1 and CD1 were lower than in the parental strain. The expression of each GTF was detected in the Gbp mutants, however, they had lower levels of cell-free-GTF activity than the parental strain. On the other hand, in acid tolerance assays, BD1 was the most sensitive among all of the tested strains. These results suggest that GbpA and GbpC in S. mutans have strong relationships with cariogenicity, while GbpB may have another biological function.

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