Role of oxyR in the oral anaerobe Porphyromonas gingivalis

J Bacteriol. 2006 Apr;188(7):2454-62. doi: 10.1128/JB.188.7.2454-2462.2006.


Porphyromonas gingivalis is an anaerobic microorganism that inhabits the oral cavity, where oxidative stress represents a constant challenge. A putative transcriptional regulator associated with oxidative stress, an oxyR homologue, is known from the P. gingivalis W83 genome sequence. We used microarrays to characterize the response of P. gingivalis to H2O2 and examine the role of oxyR in the regulation of this response. Most organisms in which oxyR has been investigated are facultative anaerobes or aerobes. In contrast to the OxyR-regulated response of these microorganisms to H2O2, the main feature of the response in P. gingivalis was a concerted up-regulation of insertion sequence elements related to IS1 transposases. Common OxyR-regulated genes such as dps and ahpFC were not positively regulated in P. gingivalis in response to H2O2. However, their expression was dependent on the presence of a functional OxyR, as revealed by microarray comparison of an oxyR mutant to the wild type. Phenotypic characterization of the oxyR mutant showed that OxyR plays a role in both the resistance to H2O2 and the aerotolerance of P. gingivalis. Escherichia coli and other bacteria with more complex respiratory requirements use OxyR for regulating resistance to H2O2 and use a separate regulator for aerotolerance. In P. gingivalis, the presence of a single protein combining the two functions might be related to the comparatively smaller genome size of this anaerobic microorganism. In conclusion, these results suggest that OxyR does not act as a sensor of H2O2 in P. gingivalis but constitutively activates transcription of oxidative-stress-related genes under anaerobic growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / genetics
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DPS protein, Bacteria
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

Associated data

  • GENBANK/DQ098106