Streptococcus gordonii Poised for Glycan Feeding through a MUC5B-Discriminating, Lipoteichoic Acid-Mediated Outside-In Signaling Circuit

Bruno P. Lima, Julia R. Davies, Claes Wickström, Karen F. Johnstone, Jeffrey W. Hall, Gunnel Svensater, Mark C. Herzberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many oral bacteria employ cell wall-anchored adhesins to bind to the salivary films coating the teeth and mucosal surfaces. Surface binding prevents clearance and facilitates catabolism of salivary film glycoproteins. We asked whether Streptococcus gordonii adhesin expression changes in response to surface salivary cues using a eukaryote-like, outside-in recognition and signaling circuit. To determine whether the cues were discriminated, S. gordonii was tested during cell adhesion and biofilm formation on a MUC5B-rich or lower-molecular-mass salivary fraction or an uncoated abiotic surface. Cells were recovered and analyzed for differences in gene expression and proteins in cell wall fractions. In salivary-free conditions, planktonic S. gordonii presented three prominent cell wall LPXTG-motif proteins, SGO_1487, SGO_0890, and MbpA (mucin-binding protein A; SGO_0707). During biofilm formation on MUC5B-coated surfaces, MbpA, a MUC5B-binding protein, and key genes in the tagatose and quorum-sensing pathways were strongly promoted. The response to MUC5B required the two-component system (TCS), streptococcal regulator of adhesins sensor and regulator (SraSR, SGO_1180/81), lipoteichoic acid (LTA), and the homologous paired adhesins, SspA and SspB (SspAB). LTA appears to link the outside signal (MUC5B) to intramembrane SraSR. Tagatose pathway gene expression may poise cells to metabolize MUC5B glycans and, with a quorum-sensing gene (luxS), may direct formation of a consortium to facilitate glycan cross-feeding by S. gordonii. We now show that a Gram-positive bacterium discriminates specific surface environmental cues using an outside-in signaling mechanism to apparently optimize colonization of saliva-coated surfaces. IMPORTANCE All organisms throughout the tree of life sense and respond to their surface environments. To discriminate among mucosal surface environmental cues, we report that Streptococcus gordonii recognizes a high-molecular-weight mucin glycoprotein, MUC5B, using the paired adhesins SspAB and lipoteichoic acid; the latter bridges the outside signal to an intramembrane two-component system to transcriptionally regulate a MUC5Bspecific adhesin and genes that may facilitate glycan catabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council 201601994; NIH/NIDCR DE025616, DE027705, DE08590, and T90DE022732; and funds from the OVPR University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.


  • MUC5B
  • Streptococcus gordonii
  • adhesins
  • glycan feeding
  • lipoteichoic acid
  • signaling circuit
  • two-component system

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


Dive into the research topics of 'Streptococcus gordonii Poised for Glycan Feeding through a MUC5B-Discriminating, Lipoteichoic Acid-Mediated Outside-In Signaling Circuit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this