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Future Microbiol. 2009 Sep;4(7):891-902. doi: 10.2217/fmb.09.64.

Serotype classification of Streptococcus mutans and its detection outside the oral cavity.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Division of Oral Infections & Disease Control, Osaka University Graduate School of Dentistry, 1-8 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Streptococcus mutans, generally known as a major pathogen of dental caries, is also a possible causative agent of bacteremia and infective endocarditis. S. mutans is classified into serotypes c, e, f and k based on the chemical composition of serotype-specific polysaccharides, with approximately 70-80% of strains found in the oral cavity classified as serotype c, followed by e (approximately 20%), and f and k (less than 5% each). Serotype k was recently designated as a novel serotype and shown to possess unique features, the most prominent being a defect of the glucose side chain in serotype-specific rhamnose-glucose polymers, which is related to a higher incidence of detection in cardiovascular specimens, owing to phagocytosis resistance. Molecular analyses of cardiovascular specimens showed a high detection frequency for S. mutans DNA, among which the detection rate for serotype k was quite high. These findings suggest that serotype k S. mutans possibly has a high level of virulence for systemic diseases.

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