Glycine prevents the phenotypic expression of streptococcal glucan-binding lectin

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Apr 6;1474(2):212-8. doi: 10.1016/s0304-4165(00)00010-6.


Glycine has been used extensively in bacterial cell surface research. Some researchers employ glycine in growth media so as to increase the transformability of streptococci during electroporation. Others have found that glycine, similar to wall antibiotics, 'weakens' peptidoglycan. It is now shown that when glycine is incorporated into the growth medium, Streptococcus sobrinus exhibits a diminished ability to aggregate with high molecular weight alpha-1,6-glucan. Growth of the bacteria in either a rich or a chemically defined medium results in a cell population with full lectin (glucan-binding) fidelity. Incorporation of glycine, but not serine or other amino acids, at concentrations of 100-200 mM gives rise to bacteria with lowered lectin activities. Bacteriolytic enzymes were able to lyse bacteria from glycine-grown cultures more readily than from cultures without the glycine supplement. The bacteria produce glucan-binding proteins, including glucosyltransferases, but they do not readily aggregate with added dextran. Furthermore, SDS-PAGE gels of supernatants of growth media (+/-glycine) are similar, suggesting the bacteria do not produce a unique set of proteins. Western blotting with a fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled dextran probe reveals normal amounts of glucan-binding proteins in glycine-grown streptococci. Glycine may be acting as a type of antibiotic, reducing wall integrity upon which glucan promoted cellular aggregation depends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Biofilms
  • Culture Media
  • Glucans / metabolism*
  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Glycine / pharmacology*
  • Lectins / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / drug effects*
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / enzymology
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Culture Media
  • Glucans
  • Lectins
  • glucan-binding lectin, Streptococcus sobrinus
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • Glycine