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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 1991 Feb;6(1):41-50.

Intracellular xylitol-phosphate hydrolysis and efflux of xylitol in Streptococcus sobrinus.

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Ecole de Médecine Dentaire, Université Laval, Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada.


The parental strain Streptococcus sobrinus (Streptococcus mutans ATCC 27352), which is known to transport, phosphorylate and accumulate xylitol intracellularly as nonmetabolizable xylitol-phosphate (xylitol-sensitive (XS) strain) and its xylitol-resistant (XR) spontaneous mutant were used to further investigate the inhibitory action of xylitol on oral streptococci. Fructose-grown XR cells did not accumulate xylitol-phosphate, indicating that the inducible fructose PTS is incapable of transporting the pentitol. The intracellularly accumulated pentitol-phosphate by the XS cells did not prevent the subsequent uptake and degradation of glucose or fructose, despite a drop in the PEP pool and a 50% inhibition of the glucose but not the fructose catabolism. Intracellular dephosphorylation of the pentitol-phosphate and release of xylitol in the extracellular medium resulted in a rapid decrease of the intracellular level of this nonmetabolizable product. A Mg(++)- or Mn(++)-independent sugar-phosphate hydrolysing activity capable of splitting xylitol-phosphate was demonstrated in both XS and XR strains. Preincubation in the presence of N1-ethylmaleimide (NEM) and xylitol or NEM and fructose resulted in the subsequent inhibition of both xylitol uptake and efflux. The efflux kinetic at various temperatures is compatible with a facilitated diffusion by the phosphotransferase system EIIfru without, however, excluding the existence of an additional exit route, but it excludes a simple diffusion exit process. The results are consistent with the existence of a xylitol futile cycle contributing to the growth inhibition of S. sobrinus by the pentitol without excluding a toxic effect of xylitol-phosphate. Discrepancies in the literature on the action of xylitol on S. mutans could be explained in the light of the evidence presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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