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J Dent Res. 1995 Feb;74(2):649-57.

Specific and charge interactions mediate collagen recognition by oral lactobacilli.

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Department of Periodontics, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


The mechanisms by which oral lactobacilli, one of the three major genera of cariogenic bacteria, attach to tooth surfaces are unknown. We hypothesize that recognition of collagen, the major component of dentin, may be a mechanism which localizes these bacteria to exposed root surfaces as well as to carious lesions which have penetrated the dentin. We found that the majority of oral Lactobacillus spp. strains recognize and bind collagen type I. Binding of 125I-labeled collagen type I to two strains of L. casei rhamnosus has been characterized in some detail. These strains were previously characterized with respect to their attachment to dentin (Switalski and Butcher, 1994). The process of 125I-collagen binding was mediated via specific as well as charge interactions. The putative adhesin-mediated (specific) interaction involved a limited number of bacterial surface components (2 x 10(3)/cell). Under conditions conducive for non-specific interactions (low ionic strength), the binding was higher by an order of magnitude. Collagen binding strains were found to adhere to collagen-coated surfaces, while strains unable to bind collagen adhered to a much lesser extent. Adherence of bacteria to collagen-coated surfaces could be competitively inhibited with collagen. These interactions may target collagen-binding strains of lactobacilli to dentin collagen in the oral cavity and thus play a role in the pathogenesis of root surface and/or coronal caries. Interference with this collagen-mediated attachment of lactobacilli may provide effective means of caries control, particularly in view of the fact that other oral acidogenic microbiota also interact with collagen.

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