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Adv Dent Res. 1997 Apr;11(1):100-9.

Analysis of gene expression in Streptococcus mutans in biofilms in vitro.

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Department of Dental Research, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York 14642, USA.


The purpose of this study was to develop methods for the consistent production of biofilms of S. mutans containing reporter gene fusions, and to examine the expression of genes involved in sucrose metabolism in adherent populations of this organism. Three strains of S. mutans harboring reporter gene fusions to the gene promoter regions of the gtfBC genes, ftf, and scrA were grown in a Rototorque biofilm fermenter in a tryptone-yeast extract-sucrose medium. Quasi-steady-state levels of reporter gene activity were measured after the biofilms were grown for either 48 hrs of 7 days. Also, induction of gene expression by the addition of sucrose to biofilm cells was monitored. Reporter gene activity was measurable from all gene fusion strains. This study (i) establishes the feasibility of doing detailed molecular and physiologic studies on immobilized populations of S. mutans, (ii) demonstrates that the polysaccharide synthesis machinery of S. mutans is differentially expressed in biofilms, and (iii) opens the way for a more detailed analysis of the environmental signals and signal transduction pathways governing the regulation of gene expression by S. mutans cells that are immobilized on a solid surface.

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