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J Bacteriol. 2013 Sep;195(17):3897-905. doi: 10.1128/JB.00610-13. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Inactivation of cyclic Di-GMP binding protein TDE0214 affects the motility, biofilm formation, and virulence of Treponema denticola.

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Department of Oral Biology, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA.


As a ubiquitous second messenger, cyclic dimeric GMP (c-di-GMP) has been studied in numerous bacteria. The oral spirochete Treponema denticola, a periodontal pathogen associated with human periodontitis, has a complex c-di-GMP signaling network. However, its function remains unexplored. In this report, a PilZ-like c-di-GMP binding protein (TDE0214) was studied to investigate the role of c-di-GMP in the spirochete. TDE0214 harbors a PilZ domain with two signature motifs: RXXXR and DXSXXG. Biochemical studies showed that TDE0214 binds c-di-GMP in a specific manner, with a dissociation constant (Kd) value of 1.73 μM, which is in the low range compared to those of other reported c-di-GMP binding proteins. To reveal the role of c-di-GMP in T. denticola, a TDE0214 deletion mutant (TdΔ214) was constructed and analyzed in detail. First, swim plate and single-cell tracking analyses showed that TdΔ214 had abnormal swimming behaviors: the mutant was less motile and reversed more frequently than the wild type. Second, we found that biofilm formation of TdΔ214 was substantially repressed (∼6.0-fold reduction). Finally, in vivo studies using a mouse skin abscess model revealed that the invasiveness and ability to induce skin abscesses and host humoral immune responses were significantly attenuated in TdΔ214, indicative of the impact that TDE0214 has on the virulence of T. denticola. Collectively, the results reported here indicate that TDE0214 plays important roles in motility, biofilm formation, and virulence of the spirochete. This report also paves a way to further unveil the roles of the c-di-GMP signaling network in the biology and pathogenicity of T. denticola.

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