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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Identification of the Streptococcus mutans LytST two-component regulon reveals its contribution to oxidative stress tolerance

Sang-Joon Ahn1, Ming-Da Qu2, Elisha Roberts2, Robert A Burne1 and Kelly C Rice2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

2 Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:187  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-187

Published: 1 September 2012

Abstract

Background

The S. mutans LrgA/B holin-like proteins have been shown to affect biofilm formation and oxidative stress tolerance, and are regulated by oxygenation, glucose levels, and by the LytST two-component system. In this study, we sought to determine if LytST was involved in regulating lrgAB expression in response to glucose and oxygenation in S. mutans.

Results

Real-time PCR revealed that growth phase-dependent regulation of lrgAB expression in response to glucose metabolism is mediated by LytST under low-oxygen conditions. However, the effect of LytST on lrgAB expression was less pronounced when cells were grown with aeration. RNA expression profiles in the wild-type and lytS mutant strains were compared using microarrays in early exponential and late exponential phase cells. The expression of 40 and 136 genes in early-exponential and late exponential phase, respectively, was altered in the lytS mutant. Although expression of comYB, encoding a DNA binding-uptake protein, was substantially increased in the lytS mutant, this did not translate to an effect on competence. However, a lrgA mutant displayed a substantial decrease in transformation efficiency, suggestive of a previously-unknown link between LrgA and S. mutans competence development. Finally, increased expression of genes encoding antioxidant and DNA recombination/repair enzymes was observed in the lytS mutant, suggesting that the mutant may be subjected to increased oxidative stress during normal growth. Although the intracellular levels of reaction oxygen species (ROS) appeared similar between wild-type and lytS mutant strains after overnight growth, challenge of these strains with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) resulted in increased intracellular ROS in the lytS mutant.

Conclusions

Overall, these results: (1) Reinforce the importance of LytST in governing lrgAB expression in response to glucose and oxygen, (2) Define a new role for LytST in global gene regulation and resistance to H2O2, and (3) Uncover a potential link between LrgAB and competence development in S. mutans.

Keywords:
Stress; Oxygen; Competence; Cid/Lrg system; Streptococcus mutans