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Systematic Approach to Identify Novel Antimicrobial and Antibiofilm Molecules from Plants' Extracts and Fractions to Prevent Dental Caries

Sabrina M. Ribeiro*1, Érick D. O. Fratucelli*1, Júlia M. Fernandes*2, Paula C. P. Bueno2,3, Alberto José Cavalheiro2, Marlise I. Klein1
* These authors contributed equally


Natural products provide structurally different substances, with a myriad of biological activities. However, the identification and isolation of active compounds from plants are challenging because of the complex plant matrix and time-consuming isolation and identification procedures. Therefore, a stepwise approach for screening natural compounds from plants, including the isolation and identification of potentially active molecules, is presented. It includes the collection of the plant material; preparation and fractionation of crude extracts; chromatography and spectrometry (UHPLC-DAD-HRMS and NMR) approaches for analysis and compounds identification; bioassays (antimicrobial and antibiofilm activities; bacterial "adhesion strength" to the salivary pellicle and initial glucan matrix treated with selected treatments); and data analysis. The model is simple, reproducible, and allows high-throughput screening of multiple compounds, concentrations, and treatment steps can be consistently controlled. The data obtained provide the foundation for future studies, including formulations with the most active extracts and/or fractions, isolation of molecules, modeling molecules to specific targets in microbial cells and biofilms. For example, one target to control cariogenic biofilm is to inhibit the activity of Streptococcus mutans glucosyltransferases that synthesize the extracellular matrix’ glucans. The inhibition of those enzymes prevents the biofilm build-up, decreasing its virulence.

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