We previously reported the new serotype k of Streptococcus mutans, which, compared to serotypes c, e, and f, features a drastic reduction in the length of the glucose side chain linked to the rhamnose backbone of the serotype specific polysaccharide. The 5' region of the rgpF gene of serotype k strains contains a distinctive nucleotide sequence, which suggests that an alteration of the rgpF gene in serotype k strains may explain the shortened glucose side chain. However, in the present study, expression of the rgpF gene of MT8148 (serotype c) in serotype k isolates was not found to lead to serotype conversion. Furthermore, mRNA expression of rgpE, known to be associated with glucose side chain formation, was not detected in any of the tested serotype k isolates with an RT-PCR method. The nucleotide alignment of all genes known to be involved in the biosynthesis of serotype specific polysaccharide in serotype k strains was shown to be quite similar to that of serotype c strains, as compared to serotype e and f strains, especially in the region downstream of rgpF. Our results indicate that the common characteristics of serotype k isolates may be caused by a lack of expression of the gene involved in glucose side chain formation.