Identification of mutans streptococci by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of polymerase chain reaction-amplified 16S ribosomal RNA genes

Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2003 Oct;18(5):323-6. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-302x.2003.00095.x.


Mutans streptococci are frequently isolated from dental plaque and carious lesions. These bacteria have been identified by conventional methods such as biochemical and serologic tests followed by the isolation of colonies on the mitis-salivarius agar, which are sometimes inconsistent. Recently, species-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been reported to rapidly identify Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. However, in the case of identification and classification into several species, e.g. within the group of mutans streptococci consisting of seven species, the identification using species-specific PCR seems somewhat inefficient because of need for the development and preparation of specific primers for each species. Therefore, in this study we developed a simple method using restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of PCR-amplified 16S ribosomal RNA genes (16S rRNA genes PCR-RFLP) for the identification of seven different species included in the group of mutans streptococci. We amplified 16S rRNA gene sequences from genomic DNA samples by PCR using universal primers and digested the PCR products with the restriction endonucleases, HpaII and HaeIII. HpaII produced six RFLP patterns for eight reference strains, since the patterns for S. sobrinus, Streptococcus downei and Streptococcus ferus were similar. RFLP patterns produced with HaeIII could separate these three species. Furthermore, the RFLP patterns predicted from the 16S rRNA gene sequences in the GenBank database agreed with the actual RFLP patterns produced in the present study. The 16S rRNA sequence comparisons can be used to identify oral mutans streptococci; however, the identification by sequencing is sometimes difficult in large-scale studies and for small laboratories. Therefore, 16S rRNA genes PCR-RFLP, using HpaII and HaeIII, could be an alternative method for the identification of mutans streptococci, and may be applicable for large-scale studies on the cariogenicity of mutans streptococci.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Deoxyribonuclease HpaII
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / analysis*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Serotyping
  • Species Specificity
  • Streptococcus / classification*
  • Streptococcus / genetics
  • Streptococcus mutans / classification*
  • Streptococcus mutans / genetics
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / classification
  • Streptococcus sobrinus / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Deoxyribonuclease HpaII
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific
  • GGCC-specific type II deoxyribonucleases