Identification of a novel two-component system in Streptococcus gordonii V288 involved in biofilm formation

Yongshu Zhang, Yu Lei, Ali Khammanivong, Mark C. Herzberg

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Streptococcus gordonii is a pioneer colonizer of the teeth, contributing to the initiation of the oral biofilm called dental plaque. To identify genes that may be important in biofilm formation, a plasmid integration library of S. gordonii V288 was used. After screening for in vitro biofilm formation on polystyrene, a putative biofilm-defective mutant was isolated. In this mutant, pAK36 was inserted into a locus encoding a novel two-component system (bfr [biofilm formation related]) with two cotranscribed genes that form an operon. bfrA encodes a putative response regulator, while bfrB encodes a receptor histidine kinase. The bfr mutant and wild-type strain V288 showed similar growth rates in Todd-Hewitt broth (THB). A bfr-cat fusion strain was constructed. During growth in THB, the reporter activity (chloramphenicol acetyltransferase) was first detected in mid-log phase and reached a maximum in stationary phase, suggesting that transcription of bfr was growth stage dependent. After being harvested from THB, the bfr mutant adhered less effectively than did wild-type strain V288 to saliva-coated hydroxyapatite (sHA). To simulate pioneer colonization of teeth, S. gordonii V288 was incubated with sHA for 4 h in THB with 10% saliva to develop biofilms. RNA was isolated, and expression of bfrAB was estimated. In comparison to that of cells grown in suspension (free-growing cells), bfr mRNA expression by sessile cells on sHA was 1.8-fold greater and that by surrounding planktonic cells was 3.5-fold greater. Therefore, bfrAB is a novel two-component system regulated in association with S. gordonii biofilm formation in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3489-3494
Number of pages6
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


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