We identified a gene (atlA) encoding autolytic activity from Streptococcus mutans Xc. The AtlA protein predicted to be encoded by atlA is composed of 979 amino acids with a molecular weight of 107,279 and has a conserved β-1,4-N-acetylmuramidase (lysozyme) domain in the C-terminal portion. Sodium dodecyl sulfate extracts of strain Xc showed two major bacteriolytic bands with molecular masses of 107 and 79 kDa, both of which were absent from a mutant with inactivated atlA. Western blot analysis revealed that the 79-kDa band was derived from the 107-kDa peptide by cleavage of its N-terminal portion. The inactivation of atlA resulted in a marked decrease in autolysis and the formation of very long chains of cells compared to the case for the parent strain. Although both the parent and mutant strains formed biofilms in the presence of sucrose, the biofilms formed by the mutant had a sponge-like architecture with large gaps and contained 30% less biomass than those formed by the parent strain. Furthermore, strain Xc formed glucose-dependent, loose biofilms in the absence of sucrose, but the mutant lost this ability. These results suggest that AtlA may play an important role in biofilm formation by S. mutans. The antibody produced against the C-terminal peptide containing the β-l,4-N-acetylmuramidase domain drastically inhibited the autolytic activity of strain Xc. This inhibition was specific among the oral streptococci to S. mutans. These results indicate that the catalytic domain of AtlA is located at the C terminus, suggesting that further characterization of this domain may provide a means to control cariogenic dental plaque formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases