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Mol Microbiol. 2010 Aug;77(4):841-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07252.x. Epub 2010 Jun 10.

The Actinomyces oris type 2 fimbrial shaft FimA mediates co-aggregation with oral streptococci, adherence to red blood cells and biofilm development.

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Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX, USAOral Infection and Immunity Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USADepartment of Molecular, Microbial & Structural Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT, USA.


Interbacterial interactions between oral streptococci and actinomyces and their adherence to tooth surface and the associated host cells are key early events that promote development of the complex oral biofilm referred to as dental plaque. These interactions depend largely on a lectin-like activity associated with the Actinomyces oris type 2 fimbria, a surface structure assembled by sortase (SrtC2)-dependent polymerization of the shaft and tip fimbrillins, FimA and FimB respectively. To dissect the function of specific fimbrillins in various adherence processes, we have developed a convenient new technology for generating unmarked deletion mutants of A. oris. Here, we show that the fimB mutant, which produced type 2 fimbriae composed only of FimA, like the wild type co-aggregated strongly with receptor-bearing streptococci, agglutinated with sialidase-treated red blood cells, and formed monospecies biofilm. In contrast, the fimA and srtC2 mutants lacked type 2 fimbriae and were non-adherent in each of these assays. Plasmid-based expression of the deleted gene in respective mutants restored adherence to wild-type levels. These findings uncover the importance of the lectin-like activity of the polymeric FimA shaft rather than the tip. The multivalent adhesive function of FimA makes it an ideal molecule for exploring novel intervention strategies to control plaque biofilm formation.

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