• The delta subunit of RNA polymerase, RpoE, is a global modulator of Streptococcus mutans environmental adaptation.

      Xue, Xiaoli; Tomasch, Jürgen; Sztajer, Helena; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Research Group Microbial Communication, Division of Cell Biology, Helmholtz-Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2010-10)
      The delta subunit of RNA polymerase, RpoE, is widespread in low-G+C Gram-positive bacteria and is thought to play a role in enhancing transcriptional specificity by blocking RNA polymerase binding at weak promoter sites and stimulating RNA synthesis by accelerating core enzyme recycling. Despite the well-studied biochemical properties of RpoE, a role for this protein in vivo has not been defined in depth. In this study, we show that inactivation of rpoE in the human dental caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans causes impaired growth and loss of important virulence traits, including biofilm formation, resistance to antibiotics, and tolerance to environmental stresses. Complementation of the mutant with rpoE expressed in trans restored its phenotype to wild type. The luciferase fusion reporter showed that rpoE was highly transcribed throughout growth and that acid and hydrogen peroxide stresses repressed rpoE expression. Transcriptome profiling of wild-type and ΔrpoE cells in the exponential and early stationary phase of growth, under acid and hydrogen peroxide stress and under both stresses combined, revealed that genes involved in histidine synthesis, malolactic fermentation, biofilm formation, and antibiotic resistance were downregulated in the ΔrpoE mutant under all conditions. Moreover, the loss of RpoE resulted in dramatic changes in transport and metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. Interestingly, differential expression, mostly upregulation, of 330 noncoding regions was found. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that RpoE is an important global modulator of gene expression in S. mutans which is required for optimal growth and environmental adaptation.
    • Lack of the delta subunit of RNA polymerase increases virulence related traits of Streptococcus mutans.

      Xue, Xiaoli; Sztajer, Helena; Buddruhs, Nora; Petersen, Jörn; Rohde, Manfred; Talay, Susanne R; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Research Group Microbial Communication, Division of Cell Biology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research GmbH, Braunschweig, Germany. (2011)
      The delta subunit of the RNA polymerase, RpoE, maintains the transcriptional specificity in gram-positive bacteria. Lack of RpoE results in massive changes in the transcriptome of the human dental caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans. In this study, we analyzed traits of the ΔrpoE mutant which are important for biofilm formation and interaction with oral microorganisms and human cells and performed a global phenotypic analysis of its physiological functions. The ΔrpoE mutant showed higher self-aggregation compared to the wild type and coaggregated with other oral bacteria and Candida albicans. It formed a biofilm with a different matrix structure and an altered surface attachment. The amount of the cell surface antigens I/II SpaP and the glucosyltransferase GtfB was reduced. The ΔrpoE mutant displayed significantly stronger adhesion to human extracellular matrix components, especially to fibronectin, than the wild type. Its adhesion to human epithelial cells HEp-2 was reduced, probably due to the highly aggregated cell mass. The analysis of 1248 physiological traits using phenotype microarrays showed that the ΔrpoE mutant metabolized a wider spectrum of carbon sources than the wild type and had acquired resistance to antibiotics and inhibitory compounds with various modes of action. The reduced antigenicity, increased aggregation, adherence to fibronection, broader substrate spectrum and increased resistance to antibiotics of the ΔrpoE mutant reveal the physiological potential of S. mutans and show that some of its virulence related traits are increased.