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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Oct;50(2):597-607.

Host collagen signal induces antigen I/II adhesin and invasin gene expression in oral Streptococcus gordonii.

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Department of Oral and Dental Science, University of Bristol Dental School, Lower Maudlin Street, Bristol BS1 2LY, United Kingdom.


Microbial interactions with host molecules, and programmed responses to host environmental stimuli, are critical for colonization and initiation of pathogenesis. Bacteria of the genus Streptococcus are primary colonizers of the human mouth. They express multiple cell-surface adhesins that bind salivary components and other oral bacteria and enable the development of polymicrobial biofilms associated with tooth decay and periodontal disease. However, the mechanisms by which streptococci invade dentine to infect the tooth pulp and periapical tissues are poorly understood. Here we show that production of the antigen I/II (AgI/II) family polypeptide adhesin and invasin SspA in Streptococcus gordonii is specifically upregulated in response to a collagen type I signal, minimally the tri-peptide Gly-Pro-Xaa (where Xaa is hydroxyproline or alanine). Increased AgI/II polypeptide expression promotes bacterial adhesion and extended growth of streptococcal cell chains along collagen type I fibrils that are characteristically found within dentinal tubules. These observations define a new model of host matrix signal-induced tissue penetration by bacteria and open the way for novel therapy opportunities for oral invasive diseases.

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