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J Biol Chem. 2012 Oct 19;287(43):36111-22. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.379230. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Heterologous expression of sahH reveals that biofilm formation is autoinducer-2-independent in Streptococcus sanguinis but is associated with an intact activated methionine cycle.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology, Virology and Hygiene, Rostock University Hospital, 18057 Rostock, Germany.


Numerous studies have claimed deleterious effects of LuxS mutation on many bacterial phenotypes, including bacterial biofilm formation. Genetic complementation mostly restored the observed mutant phenotypes to WT levels, leading to the postulation that quorum sensing via a family of molecules generically termed autoinducer-2 (AI-2) is essential for many phenotypes. Because LuxS mutation has dual effects, this hypothesis needs to be investigated into the details for each bacterial species. In this study we used S. sanguinis SK36 as a model biofilm bacterium and employed physiological characterization and transcriptome approaches on WT and luxS-deficient strains, in combination with chemical, luxS, and sahH complementation experiments. SahH enables a direct conversion of SAH to homocysteine and thereby restores the activated methionine cycle in a luxS-negative background without formation of the AI-2 precursor 4,5-dihydroxy-2,3-pentanedione. With this strategy we were able to dissect the individual contribution of LuxS and AI-2 activity in detail. Our data revealed that S. sanguinis biofilm formation is independent from AI-2 substance pools and is rather supported by an intact activated methyl cycle. Of 216 differentially transcribed genes in the luxS mutant, 209 were restored by complementation with a gene encoding the S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase. Only nine genes, mainly involved in natural competence, were directly affected by the AI-2 quorum-sensing substance pool. Cumulatively, this suggested that biofilm formation in S. sanguinis is not under control of AI-2. Our study suggests that previously evaluated LuxS mutants in other species need to be revisited to resolve the precise contribution of AI-2 substance pools and the methionine pathways.

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