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Infect Immun. 2014 Aug;82(8):3374-82. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01976-14. Epub 2014 May 27.

The periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis induces expression of transposases and cell death of Streptococcus mitis in a biofilm model.

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Forsyth Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Forsyth Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Oral microbial communities are extremely complex biofilms with high numbers of bacterial species interacting with each other (and the host) to maintain homeostasis of the system. Disturbance in the oral microbiome homeostasis can lead to either caries or periodontitis, two of the most common human diseases. Periodontitis is a polymicrobial disease caused by the coordinated action of a complex microbial community, which results in inflammation of tissues that support the teeth. It is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults in the United States, and recent studies have suggested that it may increase the risk for systemic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases. In a recent series of papers, Hajishengallis and coworkers proposed the idea of the "keystone-pathogen" where low-abundance microbial pathogens (Porphyromonas gingivalis) can orchestrate inflammatory disease by turning a benign microbial community into a dysbiotic one. The exact mechanisms by which these pathogens reorganize the healthy oral microbiome are still unknown. In the present manuscript, we present results demonstrating that P. gingivalis induces S. mitis death and DNA fragmentation in an in vitro biofilm system. Moreover, we report here the induction of expression of multiple transposases in a Streptococcus mitis biofilm when the periodontopathogen P. gingivalis is present. Based on these results, we hypothesize that P. gingivalis induces S. mitis cell death by an unknown mechanism, shaping the oral microbiome to its advantage.

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