Microbes colonize human oral surfaces within hours after delivery. During postnatal development, physiological changes, such as the eruption of primary teeth and replacement of the primary dentition with permanent dentition, greatly alter the microbial habitats, which, in return, may lead to community composition shifts at different phases in people's lives. By profiling saliva, supragingival and mucosal plaque samples from healthy volunteers at different ages and dentition stages, we observed that the oral cavity is a highly heterogeneous ecological system containing distinct niches with significantly different microbial communities. More importantly, the phylogenetic microbial structure varies with ageing. In addition, only a few taxa were present across the whole populations, indicating a core oral microbiome should be defined based on age and oral niches.
A major aetiological factor of dental caries is the pathology of the dental plaque biofilms. The amino acid L-arginine (Arg) is found naturally in saliva as a free molecule or as a part of salivary peptides and proteins. Plaque bacteria metabolize Arg to produce alkali and neutralize glycolytic acids, promoting a less cariogenous oral microbiome. Here, we explored an alternative and complementary mechanism of action of Arg using atomic force microscopy. The nanomechanical properties of Streptococcus mutans biofilm extracellular matrix were characterized under physiological buffer conditions. We report the effect of Arg on the adhesive behaviour and structural properties of extracellular polysaccharides in S. mutans biofilms. High-resolution imaging of biofilm surfaces can reveal additional structural information on bacterial cells embedded within the surrounding extracellular matrix. A dense extracellular matrix was observed in biofilms without Arg compared to those grown in the presence of Arg. S. mutans biofilms grown in the presence of Arg could influence the production and/or composition of extracellular membrane glucans and thereby affect their adhesion properties. Our results suggest that the presence of Arg in the oral cavity could influence the adhesion properties of S. mutans to the tooth surface.
Bacteria develop a broad range of phage resistance mechanisms, such as prevention of phage adsorption and CRISPR/Cas system, to survive phage predation. In this study, Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA1 strain was infected with lytic phage PaP1, and phage-resistant mutants were selected. A high percentage (~30%) of these mutants displayed red pigmentation phenotype (Red mutant). Through comparative genomic analysis, one Red mutant PA1r was found to have a 219.6?kb genomic fragment deletion, which contains two key genes hmgA and galU related to the observed phenotypes. Deletion of hmgA resulted in the accumulation of a red compound homogentisic acid; while A galU mutant is devoid of O-antigen, which is required for phage adsorption. Intriguingly, while the loss of galU conferred phage resistance, it significantly attenuated PA1r in a mouse infection experiment. Our study revealed a novel phage resistance mechanism via chromosomal DNA deletion in P. aeruginosa.
Determining the composition and function of subgingival dental plaque is crucial to understanding human periodontal health and disease, but it is challenging because of the complexity of the interactions between human microbiomes and human body. Here, we examined the phylogenetic and functional gene differences between periodontal and healthy individuals using MiSeq sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons and a specific functional gene array (a combination of GeoChip 4.0 for biogeochemical processes and HuMiChip 1.0 for human microbiomes). Our analyses indicated that the phylogenetic and functional gene structure of the oral microbiomes were distinctly different between periodontal and healthy groups. Also, 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis indicated that 39 genera were significantly different between healthy and periodontitis groups, and Fusobacterium, Porphyromonas, Treponema, Filifactor, Eubacterium, Tannerella, Hallella, Parvimonas, Peptostreptococcus and Catonella showed higher relative abundances in the periodontitis group. In addition, functional gene array data showed that a lower gene number but higher signal intensity of major genes existed in periodontitis, and a variety of genes involved in virulence factors, amino acid metabolism and glycosaminoglycan and pyrimidine degradation were enriched in periodontitis, suggesting their potential importance in periodontal pathogenesis. However, the genes involved in amino acid synthesis and pyrimidine synthesis exhibited a significantly lower relative abundance compared with healthy group. Overall, this study provides new insights into our understanding of phylogenetic and functional gene structure of subgingival microbial communities of periodontal patients and their importance in pathogenesis of periodontitis.
The oral cavity contains more than 700 microbial species that are engaged in extensive cell-cell interactions. These interactions contribute to the formation of highly structured multispecies communities, allow them to perform physiological functions, and induce synergistic pathogenesis. Co-adhesion between oral microbial species influences their colonization of oral cavity and effectuates, to a large extent, the temporal and spatial formation of highly organized polymicrobial community architecture. Individual species also compete and collaborate with other neighboring species through metabolic interactions, which not only modify the local microenvironment such as pH and the amount of oxygen, making it more suitable for the growth of other species, but also provide a metabolic framework for the participating microorganisms by maximizing their potential to extract energy from limited substrates. Direct physical contact of bacterial species with its neighboring co-habitants within microbial community could initiate signaling cascade and achieve modulation of gene expression in accordance with different species it is in contact with. In addition to communication through cell-cell contact, quorum sensing (QS) mediated by small signaling molecules such as competence-stimulating peptides (CSPs) and autoinducer-2 (AI-2), plays essential roles in bacterial physiology and ecology. This review will summarize the evidence that oral microbes participate in intercellular communications with co-inhabitants through cell contact-dependent physical interactions, metabolic interdependencies, as well as coordinative signaling systems to establish and maintain balanced microbial communities.
In leukemia, oral manifestations indicate aberrations in oral microbiota. Microbiota structure is determined by both host and environmental factors. In human hosts, how health status shapes the composition of oral microbiota is largely unknown. Taking advantage of advances in high-throughput sequencing, we compared the composition of supragingival plaque microbiota of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) pediatric patients with healthy controls. The oral microbiota of leukemia patients had lower richness and less diversity compared to healthy controls. Microbial samples clustered into two major groups, one of ALL patients and another of healthy children, with different structure and composition. Abundance changes of certain taxa including the Phylum Firmicutes, the Class Bacilli, the Order Lactobacillales, the Family Aerococcaceae and Carnobacteriaceae, as well as the Genus Abiotrophia and Granulicatella were associated with leukemia status. ALL patients demonstrated a structural imbalance of the oral microbiota, characterized by reduced diversity and abundance alterations, possibly involved in systemic infections, indicating the importance of immune status in shaping the structure of oral microbiota.
The oral opportunistic pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum is known to interact with a large number of different bacterial species residing in the oral cavity. It adheres to a variety of Gram-positive bacteria, including oral streptococci via the arginine-inhibitable adhesin RadD. In this study, we describe a novel protein encoded by the predicted open reading frame FN1253 that appears to play a role in interspecies interactions of F. nucleatum, particularly with oral streptococci and related Gram-positive species. We designated FN1253 as aid1 (Adherence Inducing Determinant 1). Expression analyses demonstrated that this gene was induced in F. nucleatum single species biofilms, while the presence of representative members of the oral microbiota known to adhere to F. nucleatum triggered its suppression. Inactivation as well as overexpression of aid1 affected the ability of F. nucleatum to coaggregate with oral streptococci and the closely related Enterococcus faecalis, but not other Gram-positive oral species tested. Furthermore, overexpression of aid1 led to a drastic change in the structure of dual species biofilms of F. nucleatum with oral streptococci. Aid1 function was abolished in the presence of arginine and found to be dependent on RadD. Interestingly, differential expression of aid1 did not affect messenger RNA and protein levels of RadD. These findings indicate that RadD-mediated adhesion to oral streptococci involves more complex cellular processes than the simple interaction of adhesins on the surface of partner strains. Aid1 could potentially play an important role in facilitating RadD-mediated interaction with oral streptococci by increasing binding specificity of F. nucleatum to other microbial species.
Understanding the diversity, composition, structure, function, and dynamics of human microbiomes in individual human hosts is crucial to reveal human-microbial interactions, especially for patients with microbially mediated disorders, but challenging due to the high diversity of the human microbiome. Here we have developed a functional gene-based microarray for profiling human microbiomes (HuMiChip) with 36,802 probes targeting 50,007 protein coding sequences for 139 key functional gene families. Computational evaluation suggested all probes included are highly specific to their target sequences. HuMiChip was used to analyze human oral and gut microbiomes, showing significantly different functional gene profiles between oral and gut microbiome. Obvious shifts of microbial functional structure and composition were observed for both patients with dental caries and periodontitis from moderate to advanced stages, suggesting a progressive change of microbial communities in response to the diseases. Consistent gene family profiles were observed by both HuMiChip and next generation sequencing technologies. Additionally, HuMiChip was able to detect gene families at as low as 0.001% relative abundance. The results indicate that the developed HuMiChip is a useful and effective tool for functional profiling of human microbiomes.
The classic organization by Socransky and coworkers categorized the oral bacteria of the subgingival plaque into different complexes. Treponema denticola, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Tannerella forsythia are grouped into the red complex that is highly correlated with periodontal disease. Socransky's work closely associates red with orange complex species such as Fusobacterium nucleatum and Prevotella intermedia but not with members of the other complexes. While the relationship between species contained by these complexes is in part supported by their ability to physically attach to each other, the physiological consequences of these interactions and associations are less clear. In this study, we employed T. denticola as a model organism to analyze contact-dependent responses to interactions with species belonging to the same complex (P. gingivalis and T. forsythia), the closely associated orange complex (using F. nucleatum and P. intermedia as representatives) and the unconnected yellow complex (using Streptococcus sanguinis and S. gordonii as representatives). RNA was extracted from T. denticola alone as well as after pairwise co-incubation for 5 hrs with representatives of the different complexes, and the respective gene expression profiles were determined using microarrays. Numerous genes related to motility, metabolism, transport, outer membrane and hypothetical proteins were differentially regulated in T. denticola in the presence of the tested partner species. Further analysis revealed a significant overlap in the affected genes and we identified a general response to the presence of other species, those specific to two of the three complexes as well as individual complexes. Most interestingly, many predicted major antigens (e.g. flagella, Msp, CTLP) were suppressed in responses that included red complex species indicating that the presence of the most closely associated species induces immune-evasive strategies. In summary, the data presented here provide an in-depth understanding of the transcriptional responses triggered by contact-dependent interactions between microorganisms inhabiting the periodontal pocket.
The detection of bacterial pathogens plays an important role in many biomedical applications, including clinical diagnostics, food and water safety, and biosecurity. Most current bacterial detection technologies, however, are unsuitable for use in resource-limited settings where the highest disease burdens often exist. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop portable, user-friendly biosensors capable of rapid detection of multiple pathogens in situ. We report a microfluidic chip for multiplexed detection of bacterial cells that uses antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) with species-specific targeting and binding capabilities. The AMPs are immobilized onto an electrical impedance microsensor array and serve as biorecognition elements for bacterial cell detection. Characterization of peptide immobilization on the sensors revealed robust surface binding via cysteine-gold interactions and vertical alignment relative to the sensor surface. Samples containing Streptococcus mutans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were loaded in the chip, and both microorganisms were detected at minimum concentrations of 10(5) cfu/mL within 25 min. Measurements performed in a variety of solutions revealed that high-conductivity solutions produced the largest impedance values. By integrating a highly specific bacterial cell capture scheme with rapid electrical detection, this device demonstrates great potential as a next-generation, point-of-care diagnostic platform for the detection of disease-causing pathogenic agents.
Dentures are often colonized with a variety of microorganisms, including Candida albicans, that contribute to denture stomatitis. Several in vitro models have been previously established to study denture-related microbial colonization and evaluate treatment efficacy of denture cleansers; however, those models typically fail to appreciate the complex topology and heterogeneity of denture surfaces and lack effective ways to accurately measure microbial colonization. The purpose of this study was to study microbial colonization with a new model system based on real dentures, to more realistically mimic in vivo conditions.
Saliva contains various microbes and host biological components that could be used for caries risk assessment. This review focuses on the research topics that connect dental caries with saliva, including both the microbial and host components within saliva.
It is well established that host-associated microbial communities can interfere with the colonization and establishment of microbes of foreign origins, a phenomenon often referred to as bacterial interference or colonization resistance. However, due to the complexity of the indigenous microbiota, it has been extremely difficult to elucidate the community colonization resistance mechanisms and identify the bacterial species involved. In a recent study, we have established an in vitro mice oral microbial community (O-mix) and demonstrated its colonization resistance against an Escherichia coli strain of mice gut origin. In this study, we further analyzed the community structure of the O-mix by using a dilution/regrowth approach and identified the bacterial species involved in colonization resistance against E. coli. Our results revealed that, within the O-mix there were three different types of bacterial species forming unique social structure. They act as Sensor, Mediator and Killer, respectively, and have coordinated roles in initiating the antagonistic action and preventing the integration of E. coli. The functional role of each identified bacterial species was further confirmed by E. coli-specific responsiveness of the synthetic communities composed of different combination of the identified players. The study reveals for the first time the sophisticated structural and functional organization of a colonization resistance pathway within a microbial community. Furthermore, our results emphasize the importance of Facilitation or positive interactions in the development of community-level functions, such as colonization resistance.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 3 October 2013; doi:10.1038/ismej.2013.172.
Myxococcus xanthus is a bacterium capable of complex social organization. Its characteristic social ("S")-motility mechanism is mediated by type IV pili (TFP), linear actuator appendages that propel the bacterium along a surface. TFP are known to bind to secreted exopolysaccharides (EPS), but it is unclear how M. xanthus manages to use the TFP-EPS technology common to many bacteria to achieve its unique coordinated multicellular movements. We examine M. xanthus S-motility, using high-resolution particle-tracking algorithms, and observe aperiodic stick-slip movements. We show that they are not due to chemotaxis, but are instead consistent with a constant TFP-generated force interacting with EPS, which functions both as a glue and as a lubricant. These movements are quantitatively homologous to the dynamics of earthquakes and other crackling noise systems. These systems exhibit critical behavior, which is characterized by a statistical hierarchy of discrete "avalanche" motions described by a power law distribution. The measured critical exponents from M. xanthus are consistent with mean field theoretical models and with other crackling noise systems, and the measured Lyapunov exponent suggests the existence of highly branched EPS. Such molecular architectures, which are common for efficient lubricants but rare in bacterial EPS, may be necessary for S-motility: We show that the TFP of leading "locomotive" cells initiate the collective motion of follower cells, indicating that lubricating EPS may alleviate the force generation requirements on the lead cell and thus make S-motility possible.
Acidogenicity and aciduricity are the main virulence factors of the cavity-causing bacterium Streptococcus mutans. Monitoring at the individual cell level the temporal and spatial distribution of acid produced by this important oral pathogen is central for our understanding of these key virulence factors especially when S. mutans resides in multi-species microbial communities. In this study, we explored the application of pH-sensitive green fluorescent proteins (pHluorins) to investigate these important features. Ecliptic pHluorin was functionally displayed on the cell surface of S. mutans as a fusion protein with SpaP. The resulting strain (O87) was used to monitor temporal and spatial pH changes in the microenvironment of S. mutans cells under both planktonic and biofilm conditions. Using strain O87, we revealed a rapid pH drop in the microenviroment of S. mutans microcolonies prior to the decrease in the macro-environment pH following sucrose fermentation. Meanwhile, a non-uniform pH distribution was observed within S. mutans biofilms, reflecting differences in microbial metabolic activity. Furthermore, strain O87 was successfully used to monitor the S. mutans acid production profiles within dual- and multispecies oral biofilms. Based on these findings, the ecliptic pHluorin allows us to investigate in vivo and in situ acid production and distribution by the cariogenic species S. mutans.
Nutrient or niche-based competition among bacteria is a widespread phenomenon in the natural environment. Such interspecies interactions are often mediated by secreted soluble factors and/or direct cell-cell contact. As ubiquitous soil bacteria, Myxococcus species are able to produce a variety of bioactive secondary metabolites to inhibit the growth of other competing bacterial species. Meanwhile, Myxococcus spp. also exhibit sophisticated predatory behavior, an extreme form of competition that is often stimulated by close contact with prey cells and largely depends on the availability of solid surfaces. Myxococcus spp. can also be isolated from aquatic environments. However, studies focusing on the interaction between Myxococcus and other bacteria in such environments are still limited. In this study, using the well-studied Myxococcus xanthus DK1622 and Escherichia coli as model interspecies interaction pair, we demonstrated that in an aqueous environment, M. xanthus was able to kill E. coli in a cell contact-dependent manner and that the observed contact-dependent killing required the formation of co-aggregates between M. xanthus and E. coli cells. Further analysis revealed that exopolysaccharide (EPS), type IV pilus, and lipopolysaccharide mutants of M. xanthus displayed various degrees of attenuation in E. coli killing, and it correlated well with the mutants reduction in EPS production. In addition, M. xanthus showed differential binding ability to different bacteria, and bacterial strains unable to co-aggregate with M. xanthus can escape the killing, suggesting the specific nature of co-aggregation and the targeted killing of interacting bacteria. In conclusion, our results demonstrated EPS-mediated, contact-dependent killing of E. coli by M. xanthus, a strategy that might facilitate the survival of this ubiquitous bacterium in aquatic environments.
Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) is a useful research tool to explore the exopolysaccharides (EPS) in bacterial biofilms. Here, we describe the analysis of different biofilms of Myxococcus xanthusformed in a modified chamber slide system with CLSM. In conjunction with several specific fluorescent probes, the EPS within M. xanthusbiofilms can be visualized and analyzed in situ.
The first step in bacteriophage infection is recognition and binding to the host receptor, which is mediated by the phage receptor binding protein (RBP). Different RBPs can lead to differential host specificity. In many bacteriophages, such as Escherichia coli and Lactococcal phages, RBPs have been identified as the tail fiber or protruding baseplate proteins. However, the tail fiber-dependent host specificity in Pseudomonas aeruginosa phages has not been well studied. This study aimed to identify and investigate the binding specificity of the RBP of P. aeruginosa phages PaP1 and JG004. These two phages share high DNA sequence homology but exhibit different host specificities. A spontaneous mutant phage was isolated and exhibited broader host range compared with the parental phage JG004. Sequencing of its putative tail fiber and baseplate region indicated a single point mutation in ORF84 (a putative tail fiber gene), which resulted in the replacement of a positively charged lysine (K) by an uncharged asparagine (N). We further demonstrated that the replacement of the tail fiber gene (ORF69) of PaP1 with the corresponding gene from phage JG004 resulted in a recombinant phage that displayed altered host specificity. Our study revealed the tail fiber-dependent host specificity in P. aeruginosa phages and provided an effective tool for its alteration. These contributions may have potential value in phage therapy.
We have previously characterized the interactions of the response regulator ComE from Streptococcus mutans and DNA binding sites through DNase I footprinting and electrophoretic mobility shift assay analysis. Since response regulator functions are often affected by their phosphorylation state, we investigated how phosphorylation affects the biochemical function of ComE. Unlike many response regulators, we found that the phosphorylation state of ComE does not likely play a role in DNA binding affinity but rather seems to induce the formation of an oligomeric form of the protein. The role of this oligomerization state for ComE function is discussed.
The development of multispecies oral microbial communities involves complex intra- and interspecies interactions at various levels. The ability to adhere to the resident bacteria or the biofilm matrix and overcome community resistance are among the key factors that determine whether a bacterium can integrate into a community. Fusobacterium nucleatum is a prevalent Gram-negative oral bacterial species that is able to adhere to a variety of oral microbes and has been implicated in playing an important role in the establishment of multispecies oral microbial community. However, the majority of experiments thus far has focused on the physical adherence between two species as measured by in vitro co-aggregation assays, while the community-based effects on the integration of F. nucleatum into multispecies microbial community remains to be investigated. In this study, we focus on community integration of F. nucleatum. We demonstrated using an established in vitro mice oral microbiota (O-mix) that the viability of F. nucleatum was significantly reduced upon addition to the O-mix due to cell contact-dependent induction of hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) production by oral community. Interestingly, this inhibitory effect was significantly alleviated when F. nucleatum was allowed to adhere to its known interacting partner species (such as Streptococcus sanguinis) prior to addition. Furthermore, this aggregate formation-dependent protection was absent in the F. nucleatum mutant strain ?Fn1526 that is unable to bind to a number of Gram-positive species. More importantly, this protective effect was also observed during integration of F. nucleatum into a human salivary microbial community (S-mix). These results suggest that by adhering to other oral microbes, F. nucleatum is able to mask the surface components that are recognized by H(2)O(2) producing oral community members. This evasion strategy prevents detection by antagonistic oral bacteria and allows integration into the developing oral microbial community.
Granulicatella species are facultative anaerobic, catalase-negative Gram-positive cocci, oral microbiome researches find out Granulicatella species are dominant bacteria in oral cavity which may cause opportunistic infection like periodontal disease, endodontic infection. This review summarized research progress of Granulicatella species.
Type IV pili (TFP) and exopolysaccharides (EPS) are important components for social behaviors in Myxococcus xanthus, including gliding motility and fruiting body formation. Although specific interactions between TFP and EPS have been proposed, there have as yet been no direct observations of these interactions under native conditions. In this study, we found that a truncated PilA protein (PilACt) containing only the C-terminal domain (amino acids 32-208) is sufficient for EPS binding in vitro. Furthermore, an enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) and PilACt fusion protein were constructed and used to label the native EPS in M. xanthus. Under confocal laser scanning microscope, the eGFP-PilACt-bound fruiting bodies, trail structures and biofilms exhibited similar patterns as the wheat germ agglutinin lectin-labeled EPS structures. This study showed that eGFP-PilACt fusion protein was able efficiently to label the EPS of M. xanthus, providing evidence for the first time of the direct interaction between the PilA protein and EPS under native conditions.
In Streptococcus mutans, both competence and bacteriocin production are controlled by ComC and the ComED two-component signal transduction system. Recent studies of S. mutans suggested that purified ComE binds to two 11-bp direct repeats in the nlmC-comC promoter region, where ComE activates nlmC and represses comC. In this work, quantitative binding studies and DNase I footprinting analysis were performed to calculate the equilibrium dissociation constant and further characterize the binding site of ComE. We found that ComE protects sequences inclusive of both direct repeats, has an equilibrium dissociation constant in the nanomolar range, and binds to these two direct repeats cooperatively. Furthermore, similar direct repeats were found upstream of cslAB, comED, comX, ftf, vicRKX, gtfD, gtfB, gtfC, and gbpB. Quantitative binding studies were performed on each of these sequences and showed that only cslAB has a similar specificity and high affinity for ComE as that seen with the upstream region of comC. A mutational analysis of the binding sequences showed that ComE does not require both repeats to bind DNA with high affinity, suggesting that single site sequences in the genome may be targets for ComE-mediated regulation. Based on the mutational analysis and DNase I footprinting analysis, we propose a consensus ComE binding site, TCBTAAAYSGT.
The specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide (STAMP) C16G2 was developed to target the cariogenic oral pathogen Streptococcus mutans. Because the design of this peptide was novel, we sought to better understand the mechanism through which it functioned. Compared to antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) with wide spectra of activity, the STAMP C16G2 has demonstrated specificity for S. mutans in a mixed-culture environment, resulting in the complete killing of S. mutans while having minimal effect on the other streptococci. In the current study, we sought to further confirm the selectivity of C16G2 and also compare its membrane activity to that of melittin B, a classical toxic AMP, in order to determine the STAMPs mechanism of cell killing. Disruption of S. mutans cell membranes by C16G2 was demonstrated by increased SYTOX green uptake and ATP efflux from the cells similar to those of melittin B. Treatment with C16G2 also resulted in a loss of membrane potential as measured by DiSC(3)5 fluorescence. In comparison, the individual moieties of C16G2 demonstrated no specificity and limited antimicrobial activity compared to those of the STAMP C16G2. The data suggest that C16G2 has a mechanism of action similar to that of traditional AMPs and kills S. mutans through disruption of the cell membrane, allowing small molecules to leak out of the cell, which is followed by a loss of membrane potential and cell death. Interestingly, this membrane activity is rapid and potent against S. mutans, but not other noncariogenic oral streptococci.
This study investigated the bacterial communities residing in the apical portion of human teeth with apical periodontitis in primary and secondary infections by using a culture-independent molecular biology approach.
Type IV pili (TFP) are membrane-anchored filaments with a number of important biological functions. In the model organism Myxococcus xanthus, TFP act as molecular engines that power social (S) motility through cycles of extension and retraction. TFP filaments consist of several thousand copies of a protein called PilA or pilin. PilA contains an N-terminal ?-helix essential for TFP assembly and a C-terminal globular domain important for its activity. The role of the PilA sequence and its structure-function relationship in TFP-dependent S motility remain active areas of research. In this study, we identified an M. xanthus PilA mutant carrying an alanine to valine substitution at position 32 in the ?-helix, which produced structurally intact but retraction-defective TFP. Characterization of this mutant and additional single-residue variants at this position in PilA demonstrated the critical role of alanine 32 in PilA stability, TFP assembly and retraction.
Identifying essential factors in cellular interactions and organized movement of cells is important in predicting behavioral phenotypes exhibited by many bacterial cells. We chose to study Myxococcus xanthus, a soil bacterium whose individual cell behavior changes while in groups, leading to spontaneous formation of aggregation center during the early stage of fruiting body development. In this paper, we develop a cell-based computational model that solely relies on experimentally determined parameters to investigate minimal elements required to produce the observed social behaviors in M. xanthus. The model verifies previously known essential parameters and identifies one novel parameter, the active turning, which we define as the ability and tendency of a cell to turn to a certain angle without the presence of any obvious external factors. The simulation is able to produce both gliding pattern and spontaneous aggregation center formation as observed in experiments. The model is tested against several known M. xanthus mutants and our modification of parameter values relevant for the individual mutants produces good phenotypic agreements. This outcome indicates the strong predictive potential of our model for the social behaviors of uncharacterized mutants and their expected phenotypes during development.
Fusobacterium nucleatum, an anaerobic oral bacterium, has been shown to be highly abundant in endodontic infections. Its role in these infections remains unclear. Previous studies have shown that F. nucleatum could aggregate immune cells. We have demonstrated that F. nucleatum can induce significant apoptosis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). In this in vitro study, we sought to determine what role this aggregation phenomenon has on the induction of apoptosis in PBMCs.
Finding unique peptides to target specific biological surfaces is crucial to basic research and technology development, though methods based on biological arrays or large libraries limit the speed and ease with which these necessary compounds can be found. We reasoned that because biological surfaces, such as cell surfaces, mineralized tissues, and various extracellular matrices have unique molecular compositions, they present unique physicochemical signatures to the surrounding medium which could be probed by peptides with appropriately corresponding physicochemical properties. To test this hypothesis, a naïve pilot library of 36 peptides, varying in their hydrophobicity and charge, was arranged in a two-dimensional matrix and screened against various biological surfaces. While the number of peptides in the matrix library was very small, we obtained "hits" against all biological surfaces probed. Sequence refinement of the "hits" led to peptides with markedly higher specificity and binding activity against screened biological surfaces. Genetic studies revealed that peptide binding to bacteria was mediated, at least in some cases, by specific cell-surface molecules, while examination of human tooth sections showed that this method can be used to derive peptides with highly specific binding to human tissue.
Myxococcus xanthus belongs to the delta class of the proteobacteria and is notable for its complex life-style with social behaviors and relatively large genome. Although previous observations have suggested the existence of horizontal gene transfer in M. xanthus, its ability to take up exogenous DNA via natural transformation has not been experimentally demonstrated. In this study, we achieved natural transformation in M. xanthus using the autonomously replicating myxobacterial plasmid pZJY41 as donor DNA. M. xanthus exopolysaccharide (EPS) was shown to be an extracellular barrier for transformation. Cells deficient in EPS production, e.g., mutant strains carrying ?difA or ?epsA, became naturally transformable. Among the inner barriers to transformation were restriction-modification systems in M. xanthus, which could be partially overcome by methylating DNA in vitro using cell extracts of M. xanthus prior to transformation. In addition, the incubation time of DNA with cells and the presence of divalent magnesium ion affected transformation frequency of M. xanthus. Furthermore, we also observed a potential involvement of the type IV pilus system in the DNA uptake machinery of M. xanthus. The natural transformation was totally eliminated in the ?pilQ/epsA and ?tgl/epsA mutants, and null mutation of pilB or pilC in an ?epsA background diminished the transformation rate. Our study, to the best of our knowledge, provides the first example of a naturally transformable species among deltaproteobacteria.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of microwave (MW) ablation for the treatment of hypersplenism, via a laparoscopic or percutaneous approach, and its effect on liver function in patients with liver cirrhosis.
Social motility (S motility), the coordinated movement of large cell groups on agar surfaces, of Myxococcus xanthus requires type IV pili (TFP) and exopolysaccharides (EPS). Previous models proposed that this behavior, which only occurred within cell groups, requires cycles of TFP extension and retraction triggered by the close interaction of TFP with EPS. However, the curious observation that M. xanthus can perform TFP-dependent motility at a single-cell level when placed onto polystyrene surfaces in a highly viscous medium containing 1% methylcellulose indicated that "S motility" is not limited to group movements. In an apparent further challenge of the previous findings for S motility, mutants defective in EPS production were found to perform TFP-dependent motility on polystyrene surface in methylcellulose-containing medium. By exploring the interactions between pilin and surface materials, we found that the binding of TFP onto polystyrene surfaces eliminated the requirement for EPS in EPS(-) cells and thus enabled TFP-dependent motility on a single cell level. However, the presence of a general anchoring surface in a viscous environment could not substitute for the role of cell surface EPS in group movement. Furthermore, EPS was found to serve as a self-produced anchoring substrate that can be shed onto surfaces to enable cells to conduct TFP-dependent motility regardless of surface properties. These results suggested that in certain environments, such as in methylcellulose solution, the cells could bypass the need for EPS to anchor their TPF and conduct single-cell S motility to promote exploratory movement of colonies over new specific surfaces.
Bacterially induced cell death in human lymphocytes is an important virulence factor for pathogenic bacteria. Previously discovered mechanisms of bacterially induced cell death are predominantly based on the transfer of bacterial proteins to the target host cell, such as the toxins secreted through type I, II, and VI secretion systems or effector proteins injected through type III, IV, and Vb secretion systems. Here, we report a mechanism employed by the Gram-negative oral pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum for cell death induction of human lymphocytes via two outer membrane proteins (OMPs), Fap2 and RadD, which share regions homologous to autotransporter secretion systems (type Va secretion systems). Genetic and physiological studies established that inactivation of the two OMPs led to significantly reduced ability to trigger cell death in Jurkat cells, while the corresponding double mutant was almost completely attenuated. Additional biochemical and molecular analyses demonstrated that cell-free F. nucleatum membranes are sufficient to induce cell death in Jurkat cells, suggesting that no active process or effector protein transfer was necessary to induce eukaryotic cell death.
The objective of this study was to compare the antimicrobial activity of commercially available antiseptic mouthrinses against saliva-derived plaque biofilms in static and flow-through biofilm systems in vitro.
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 used by M. xanthus, requires at least two cell surface structures: type IV pili (TFP) and extracellular polysaccharides (EPS). Extended TFP that 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 were 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-motility in M. xanthus.
The periodontal pathogen T. denticola resides in a stressful environment rife with challenges, the human oral cavity. Knowledge of the stress response capabilities of this invasive spirochete is currently very limited. Whole genome expression profiles in response to different suspected stresses including heat shock, osmotic downshift, oxygen and blood exposure were examined. Most of the genes predicted to encode conserved heat shock proteins (HSPs) were found to be induced under heat and oxygen stress. Several of these HSPs also seem to be important for survival in hypotonic solutions and blood. In addition to HSPs, differential regulation of many genes encoding metabolic proteins, hypothetical proteins, transcriptional regulators and transporters was observed in patterns that could betoken functional associations. In summary, stress responses in T. denticola exhibit many similarities to the corresponding stress responses in other organisms but also employ unique components including the induction of hypothetical proteins.
To investigate the settings for the optimal microwave ablation geometry with the simultaneous application of double 915 MHz antennae in ex vivo bovine livers, so as to provide the technical basis for treating large liver tumor in one ablation session.
Previously we reported a novel strategy of "targeted killing" through the design of narrow-spectrum molecules known as specifically targeted antimicrobial peptides (STAMPs) (R. Eckert et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 50:3651-3657, 2006; R. Eckert et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 50:1480-1488, 2006). Construction of these molecules requires the identification and the subsequent utilization of two conjoined yet functionally independent peptide components: the targeting and killing regions. In this study, we sought to design and synthesize a large number of STAMPs targeting Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiologic agent of human dental caries, in order to identify candidate peptides with increased killing speed and selectivity compared with their unmodified precursor antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). We hypothesized that a combinatorial approach, utilizing a set number of AMP, targeting, and linker regions, would be an effective method for the identification of STAMPs with the desired level of activity. STAMPs composed of the Sm6 S. mutans binding peptide and the PL-135 AMP displayed selectivity at MICs after incubation for 18 to 24 h. A STAMP where PL-135 was replaced by the B-33 killing domain exhibited both selectivity and rapid killing within 1 min of exposure and displayed activity against multispecies biofilms grown in the presence of saliva. These results suggest that potent and selective STAMP molecules can be designed and improved via a tunable "building-block" approach.
The mechanical therapy with multiple doses of antibiotics is one of modalities for treatment of periodontal diseases. However, treatments using multiple doses of antibiotics carry risks of generating resistant strains and misbalancing the resident body flora. We present an approach via immunization targeting an outer membrane protein FomA of Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum), a central bridging organism in the architecture of oral biofilms. Neutralization of FomA considerably abrogated the enhancement of bacterial co-aggregation, biofilms and production of volatile sulfur compounds mediated by an inter-species interaction of F. nucleatum with Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis). Vaccination targeting FomA also conferred a protective effect against co-infection-induced gum inflammation. Here, we advance a novel infectious mechanism by which F. nucleatum co-opts P. gingivalis to exacerbate gum infections. FomA is highlighted as a potential target for development of new therapeutics against periodontal infection and halitosis in humans.
Within the same human gastrointestinal tract, substantial differences in the bacterial species that inhabit oral cavity and intestinal tract have been noted. Previous research primarily attributed the differences to the influences of host environments and nutritional availabilities ("host habitat" effect). Our recent study indicated that, other than the host habitat effect, an existing microbial community could impose a selective pressure on incoming foreign bacterial species independent of host-mediated selection ("community selection" effect). In this study, we employed in vitro microbial floras representing microorganisms that inhabit the oral cavities and intestinal tract of mice in combination with Escherichia coli as a model intestinal bacterium and demonstrated that E. coli displays a striking community preference. It thrived when introduced into the intestinal microbial community and survived poorly in the microbial flora of foreign origin (oral community). A more detailed examination of this phenomenon showed that the oral community produced oxygen-free radicals in the presence of wild-type E. coli while mutants deficient in lipopolysaccharides (LPS) did not trigger significant production of these cell-damaging agents. Furthermore, mutants of E. coli defective in the oxidative stress response experienced a more drastic reduction in viability when cocultivated with the oral flora, while the exogenous addition of the antioxidant vitamin C was able to rescue it. We concluded that the oral-derived microbial community senses the E. coli LPS and kills the bacterium with oxygen-free radicals. This study reveals a new mechanism of community invasion resistance employed by established microflora to defend their domains.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to trillions of microbes. Within the same GI tract, substantial differences in the bacterial species that inhabit the oral cavity and intestinal tract have been noted. While the influence of host environments and nutritional availability in shaping different microbial communities is widely accepted, we hypothesize that the existing microbial flora also plays a role in selecting the bacterial species that are being integrated into the community. In this study, we used cultivable microbial communities isolated from different parts of the GI tract of mice (oral cavity and intestines) as a model system to examine this hypothesis. Microbes from these two areas were harvested and cultured using the same nutritional conditions, which led to two distinct microbial communities, each with about 20 different species as revealed by PCR-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis. In vitro community competition assays showed that the two microbial floras exhibited antagonistic interactions toward each other. More interestingly, all the original isolates tested and their closely related species displayed striking community preferences: They persisted when introduced into the bacterial community of the same origin, while their viable count declined more than three orders of magnitude after 4 days of coincubation with the microbial flora of foreign origin. These results suggest that an existing microbial community might impose a selective pressure on incoming foreign bacterial species independent of host selection. The observed inter-flora interactions could contribute to the protective effect of established microbial communities against the integration of foreign bacteria to maintain the stability of the existing communities.
Glycosylation is important for a number of biological processes and is perhaps the most abundant and complicated of the known post-translational modifications found on proteins. This work combines two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and lectin blotting to map the salivary glycome, and mass spectrometry to identity the proteins that are associated with the glycome map. A panel of 15 lectins that recognize six sugar-specific categories was used to visualize the type and extent of glycosylation in saliva from two healthy male individuals. Lectin blots were compared to 2-D gels stained either with Sypro Ruby (protein stain) or Pro-Q Emerald 488 (glycoprotein stain). Each lectin shows a distinct pattern, even those belonging to the same sugar-specific category. In addition, the glycosylation profiles generated from the lectin blots show that most of the salivary proteins are glycosylated and that the pattern is more widespread than is demonstrated by the glycoprotein stained gel. Finally, the co-reactivity between two lectins was measured to determine the glycan structures that are most and least often associated with one another along with the population variation of the lectin reactivity for 66 individuals.
Dental caries is a microbial biofilm infection in which the metabolic activities of plaque bacteria result in a dramatic pH decrease and shift the demineralization/remineralization equilibrium on the tooth surface towards demineralization. In addition to causing a net loss in tooth minerals, creation of an acidic environment favors growth of acid-enduring and acid-generating species, which causes further reduction in the plaque pH. In this study, we developed a prototype antimicrobial peptide capable of achieving high activity exclusively at low environmental pH to target bacterial species like Streptococcus mutans that produce acid and thrive under the low pH conditions detrimental for tooth integrity. The features of clavanin A, a naturally occurring peptide rich in histidine and phenylalanine residues with pH-dependent antimicrobial activity, served as a design basis for these prototype acid-activated peptides (AAPs). Employing the major cariogenic species S. mutans as a model system, the two AAPs characterized in this study exhibited a striking pH-dependent antimicrobial activity, which correlated well with the calculated charge distribution. This type of peptide represents a potential new way to combat dental caries.
Myxococcus xanthus, a Gram-negative soil bacterium, undergoes multicellular development when nutrients become limiting. Aggregation, which is part of the developmental process, requires the surface motility of this organism. One component of M. xanthus motility, the social (S) gliding motility, enables the movement of cells in close physical proximity. Previous studies demonstrated that the cell surface-associated exopolysaccharide (EPS) is essential for S motility and that the Dif proteins form a chemotaxis-like pathway that regulates EPS production in M. xanthus. DifA, a homologue of methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCPs) in the Dif system, is required for EPS production, S motility and development. In this study, a spontaneous extragenic suppressor of a difA deletion was isolated in order to identify additional regulators of EPS production. The suppressor mutation was found to be a single base pair insertion in cheW7 at the che7 chemotaxis gene cluster. Further examination indicated that mutations in cheW7 may lead to the interaction of Mcp7 with DifC (CheW-like) and DifE (CheA-like) to reconstruct a functional pathway to regulate EPS production in the absence of DifA. In addition, the cheW7 mutation was found to partially suppress a pilA mutation in EPS production in a difA(+) background. Further deletion of difA from the pilA cheW7 double mutant resulted in a triple mutant that produced wild-type levels of EPS, implying that DifA (MCP-like) and Mcp7 compete for interactions with DifC and DifE in the modulation of EPS production.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein specifically expressed in prostate cells. Therefore, the expression levels of PSA in the blood are an important indicator when diagnosing prostate cancer. Defining the mechanism of PSA expression in prostate cells will be helpful for interpreting the expression of this protein during prostate cancer progression. Reports show that a membrane protein, claudin-7 (CLDN-7), is involved in the expression of PSA. However, the mechanism by which CLDN-7 regulates PSA expression is not clear. Here we identify proteins that interact with CLDN-7 and determine whether such proteins can regulate PSA expression in a pattern similar to that of CLDN-7.
Several small (<25aa) peptides have been designed based on the sequence of the dentin phosphoprotein, one of the major noncollagenous proteins thought to be involved in the mineralization of the dentin extracellular matrix during tooth development. These peptides, consisting of multiple repeats of the tripeptide aspartate-serine-serine (DSS), bind with high affinity to calcium phosphate compounds and, when immobilized, can recruit calcium phosphate to peptide-derivatized polystyrene beads or to demineralized human dentin surfaces. The affinity of binding to hydroxyapatite surfaces increases with the number of (DSS)(n) repeats, and though similar repeated sequences-(NTT)(n), (DTT)(n), (ETT)(n), (NSS)(n), (ESS)(n), (DAA)(n), (ASS)(n), and (NAA)(n)-also showed HA binding activity, it was generally not at the same level as the natural sequence. Binding of the (DSS)(n) peptides to sectioned human teeth was shown to be tissue-specific, with high levels of binding to the mantle dentin, lower levels of binding to the circumpulpal dentin, and little or no binding to healthy enamel. Phosphorylation of the serines of these peptides was found to affect the avidity, but not the affinity, of binding. The potential utility of these peptides in the detection of carious lesions, the delivery of therapeutic compounds to mineralized tissues, and the modulation of remineralization is discussed.
Streptococcus mutans is considered a major causative of tooth decay due to its ability to rapidly metabolize carbohydrates such as sucrose. One prominent excreted end product of sucrose metabolism is lactic acid. Lactic acid causes a decrease in the pH of the oral environment with subsequent demineralization of the tooth enamel. Biologically relevant bacteria-induced enamel demineralization was studied.
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.
Streptococcus mutans is considered a primary pathogen for human dental caries. Its ability to produce a variety of peptide antibiotics called mutacins may play an important role in its invasion and establishment in the dental biofilm. S. mutans strain UA140 produces two types of mutacins, the lantibiotic mutacin I and the non-lantibiotic mutacin IV. In a previous study, we constructed a random insertional-mutation library to screen for genes involved in regulating mutacin I production, and found 25 genes/operons that have a positive effect on mutacin I production. In this study, we continued our previous work to identify genes that are negatively involved in mutacin I production. By using a high-phosphate brain heart infusion agar medium that inhibited mutacin I production of the wild-type, we isolated 77 clones that consistently produced mutacin I under repressive conditions. From the 34 clones for which we were able to obtain a sequence, 17 unique genes were identified. These genes encompass a variety of functional groups, including central metabolism, surface binding and sugar transport, and unknown functions. Some of the 17 mutations were further characterized and shown to increase mutacin gene expression during growth when the gene is usually not expressed in the wild-type. These results further demonstrate an intimate and intricate connection between mutacin production and the overall cellular homeostasis.
Numerous reports have indicated the important role of human normal flora in the prevention of microbial pathogenesis and disease. Evidence suggests that infections at mucosal surfaces result from the outgrowth of subpopulations or clusters within a microbial community and are not linked to one pathogenic organism alone. To preserve the protective normal flora whilst treating the majority of infective bacteria in the community, a tuneable therapeutic is necessary that can discriminate between benign bystanders and multiple pathogenic organisms. Here we describe the proof-of-principle for such a multitargeted antimicrobial: a multiple-headed specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide (MH-STAMP). The completed MH-STAMP, M8(KH)-20, displays specific activity against targeted organisms in vitro (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus mutans) and can remove both species from a mixed planktonic culture with little impact against untargeted bacteria. These results demonstrate that a functional, dual-targeted molecule can be constructed from a wide-spectrum antimicrobial peptide precursor.
Despite the fact that most bacteria grow in biofilms in natural and pathogenic ecosystems, very little is known about the ultrastructure of their component cells or about the details of their community architecture. We used high-pressure freezing and freeze-substitution to minimize the artifacts of chemical fixation, sample aggregation, and sample extraction. As a further innovation we have, for the first time in biofilm research, used electron tomography and three-dimensional (3D) visualization to better resolve the macromolecular 3D ultrastructure of a biofilm. This combination of superb specimen preparation and greatly improved resolution in the z axis has opened a window in studies of Myxococcus xanthus cell ultrastructure and biofilm community architecture. New structural information on the chromatin body, cytoplasmic organization, membrane apposition between adjacent cells, and structure and distribution of pili and vesicles in the biofilm matrix is presented.
One intriguing discovery in modern microbiology is the extensive presence of extracellular DNA (eDNA) within biofilms of various bacterial species. Although several biological functions have been suggested for eDNA, including involvement in biofilm formation, the detailed mechanism of eDNA integration into biofilm architecture is still poorly understood. In the biofilms formed by Myxococcus xanthus, a Gram-negative soil bacterium with complex morphogenesis and social behaviors, DNA was found within both extracted and native extracellular matrices (ECM). Further examination revealed that these eDNA molecules formed well organized structures that were similar in appearance to the organization of exopolysaccharides (EPS) in ECM. Biochemical and image analyses confirmed that eDNA bound to and colocalized with EPS within the ECM of starvation biofilms and fruiting bodies. In addition, ECM containing eDNA exhibited greater physical strength and biological stress resistance compared to DNase I treated ECM. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that DNA interacts with EPS and strengthens biofilm structures in M. xanthus.
The Clp/HSP100 family of molecular chaperones is ubiquitous in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. These proteins play important roles in refolding, disaggregating and degrading proteins damaged by stress. As a subclass of the Clp/HSP100 family, ClpB has been shown to be involved in various stress responses as well as other functions in bacteria. In the present study, we investigated the role of a predicted ClpB-encoding gene, MXAN5092, in the stress response during vegetative growth and development of Myxococcus xanthus. Transcriptional analysis confirmed induction of this clpB homologue under different stress conditions, and further phenotypic analysis revealed that an in-frame deletion mutant of MXAN5092 was more sensitive to various stress treatments than the wild-type strain during vegetative growth. Moreover, the absence of the MXAN5092 gene resulted in decreased heat tolerance of myxospores, indicating the involvement of this clpB homologue in the stress response during the development of myxospores. The M. xanthus recombinant ClpB (MXAN5092) protein also showed a general chaperone activity in vitro. Overall, our genetic and phenotypic analysis of the predicted ATP-dependent chaperone protein ClpB (MXAN5092) demonstrated that it functions as a chaperone protein and plays an important role in cellular stress tolerance during both vegetative growth and development of M. xanthus.
Exopolysaccharide (EPS) of Myxococcus xanthus is a well-regulated cell surface component. In addition to its known functions for social motility and fruiting body formation on solid surfaces, EPS has also been proposed to play a role in multi-cellular clumping in liquid medium, though this phenomenon has not been well studied. In this report, we confirmed that M. xanthus clumps formed in liquid were correlated with EPS levels and demonstrated that the EPS encased cell clumps exhibited biofilm-like structures. The clumps protected the cells at physiologically relevant EPS concentrations, while cells lacking EPS exhibited significant reduction in long-term viability and resistance to stressful conditions. However, excess EPS production was counterproductive to vegetative growth and viable cell recovery declined in extended late stationary phase as cells became trapped in the matrix of clumps. Therefore, optimal EPS production by M. xanthus is important for normal physiological functions in liquid.
Many human microbial infectious diseases including dental caries are polymicrobial in nature. How these complex multi-species communities evolve from a healthy to a diseased state is not well understood. Although many health- or disease-associated oral bacteria have been characterized in vitro, their physiology within the complex oral microbiome is difficult to determine with current approaches. In addition, about half of these species remain uncultivated to date with little known besides their 16S rRNA sequence. Lacking culture-based physiological analyses, the functional roles of uncultivated species will remain enigmatic despite their apparent disease correlation. To start addressing these knowledge gaps, we applied a combination of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) with RNA and DNA based Stable Isotope Probing (SIP) to oral plaque communities from healthy children for in vitro temporal monitoring of metabolites and identification of metabolically active and inactive bacterial species.
It is a well-recognized fact that the composition of human salivary microbial community is greatly affected by its nutritional environment. However, most studies are currently focused on major carbon or nitrogen sources with limited attention to trace elements like essential mineral ions. In this study, we examined the effect of iron availability on the bacterial profiles of an in vitro human salivary microbial community as iron is an essential trace element for the survival and proliferation of virtually all microorganisms. Analysis via a combination of PCR with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis demonstrated a drastic change in species composition of an in vitro human salivary microbiota when iron was scavenged from the culture medium by addition of the iron chelator 2,2-bipyridyl. This shift in community profile was prevented by the presence of excessive ferrous iron (Fe(2+)). Most interestingly, under iron deficiency, the in vitro grown salivary microbial community became dominated by several hemolytic bacterial species, including Streptococcus spp., Gemella spp., and Granulicatella spp. all of which have been implicated in infective endocarditis. These data provide evidence that iron availability can modulate host-associated oral microbial communities, resulting in a microbiota with potential clinical impact.
Acyl homoserine lactone (AHL)-based quorum sensing commonly refers to cell density-dependent regulatory mechanisms found in bacteria. However, beyond bacteria, this cell-to-cell communication mechanism is poorly understood. Here we show that a methanogenic archaeon, Methanosaeta harundinacea 6Ac, encodes an active quorum sensing system that is used to regulate cell assembly and carbon metabolic flux. The methanogen 6Ac showed a cell density-dependent physiology transition, which was related to the AHL present in the spent culture and the filI gene-encoded AHL synthase. Through extensive chemical analyses, a new class of carboxylated AHLs synthesized by FilI protein was identified. These carboxylated AHLs facilitated the transition from a short cell to filamentous growth, with an altered carbon metabolic flux that favoured the conversion of acetate to methane and a reduced yield in cellular biomass. The transcriptomes of the filaments and the short cell forms differed with gene expression profiles consistent with the physiology. In the filaments, genes encoding the initial enzymes in the methanogenesis pathway were upregulated, whereas those for cellular carbon assimilation were downregulated. A luxI-luxR ortholog filI-filR was present in the genome of strain 6Ac. The carboxylated AHLs were also detected in other methanogen cultures and putative filI orthologs were identified in other methanogenic genomes as well. This discovery of AHL-based quorum sensing systems in methanogenic archaea implies that quorum sensing mechanisms are universal among prokaryotes.
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