The well-coordinated linkage between acidogenicity and aciduricity via insoluble glucans on the surface of Streptococcus mutans.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/srep18015
Streptococcus mutans is considered the principal cariogenic bacterium for dental caries. Despite the recognition of their importance for cariogenesis, the possible coordination among S. mutans' main virulence factors, including glucan production, acidogenicity and aciduricity, has been less well studied. In the present study, using S. mutans strains with surface-displayed pH-sensitive pHluorin, we revealed sucrose availability- and Gtf functionality-dependent proton accumulation on S. mutans surface. Consistent with this, using a pH-sensitive dye, we demonstrated that both in vivo cell-produced and in vitro enzymatically synthesized insoluble glucans displayed proton-concentrating ability. Global transcriptomics revealed proton accumulation triggers the up-regulation of genes encoding functions involved in acid tolerance response in a glucan-dependent manner. Our data suggested that this proton enrichment around S. mutans could pre-condition the bacterium for acid-stress. Consistent with this hypothesis, we found S. mutans strains defective in glucan production were more acid sensitive. Our study revealed for the first time that insoluble glucans is likely an essential factor linking acidogenicity with aciduricity. The coordination of these key virulence factors could provide new insights on how S. mutans may have become a major cariogenic pathogen.