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Oral Dis. 2000 Nov;6(6):351-65.

Environmental cues and gene expression in Porphyromonas gingivalis and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans.

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Department of Plasma Derivatives, Jerome H. Holland Laboratory, American Red Cross, Rockville, MD 20855, USA.


Microorganisms typically adapt to environmental cues by turning on and off the expression of virulence genes which, in turn, allows for optimal growth and survival within different environmental niches. This adaptation strategy includes sensing and responding to changes in nutrients, pH, temperature, oxygen tension, redox potential, microbial flora, and osmolarity. For a bacterium to adhere to, penetrate, replicate in, and colonize host cells, it is critical that virulence genes are expressed during certain periods of the infection process. Thus, throughout the different stages of an infection, different sets of virulence factors are turned on and off in response to different environmental signals, allowing the bacterium to effectively adapt to its varying niche. In this review, we focus on the regulation of virulence gene expression in two pathogens which have been implicated as major etiological agents in adult and juvenile periodontal diseases: Porphyromonas gingivalis and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. Understanding the mechanisms of virulence gene expression in response to the local environment of the host will provide crucial information in the development of effective treatments targeted at eradication of these periodontal disease pathogens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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