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J Biosci Bioeng. 2000;90(5):484-93.

Molecular biology of oxygen tolerance in lactic acid bacteria: Functions of NADH oxidases and Dpr in oxidative stress.

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Laboratory of Applied Microbiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai 981-8555, Japan.


Lactic acid bacteria including Streptococcus mutans lack cytochromes and heme-containing proteins. Most lactic acid bacteria also lack catalase. However, they can grow in the presence of air. In view of the defense against oxygen toxicity, the lack of catalase in lactic acid bacteria is not always consistent with its aerotolerance. Mechanisms, by which lactic acid bacteria establish their growth in air, are therefore an active area of investigation. We identified two kinds of NADH oxidase genes, nox-1 and nox-2 for H2O2-forming NADH oxidase (Nox-1) and H2O-forming NADH oxidase (Nox-2), respectively, in S. mutans and found that Nox-1 is homologous with flavoprotein component, AhpF, of Salmonella typhimurium alkyl hydroperoxide reductase (AhpR), consisting of AhpF and AhpC. We also identified ahpC which is homologous with ahpC of S. typhimurium, upstream of nox-1 in S. mutans. In the first and second parts of this article, we will refer to the role of Nox-1 which acts together with AhpC as bi-component peroxidase system in S. mutans, catalyzing the NADH-dependent reduction of organic hydroperoxides or H2O2 to their respective alcohol and/or H2O. We will also refer to the role of Nox-2 in carbohydrate metabolism of S. mutans in its aerobic life. Nox-2 was found to be involved in regenerating NAD+, which is required for glycolysis in S. mutans. While studying nox-1 and ahpC double deletion mutant of S. mutans, we found that the mutant still showed the same level peroxide tolerance as did the wild-type strain. The finding suggested the existence of another antioxidant system in addition of Nox-1 and AhpC in S. mutans. We identified a new gene, dpr (for Dps-like Peroxide Resistance gene) and its product, Dpr, as an iron-binding protein which is responsible for oxygen tolerance in S. mutans. In the third part of this article, we will refer to the current status of knowledge of molecular cloning of dpr, the characteristics of dpr-disruption mutants, and a mechanism by which Dpr confers aerotolerance to S. mutans.


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