Differential expression profiles of Streptococcus mutans ftf, gtf and vicR genes in the presence of dietary carbohydrates at early and late exponential growth phases

Carbohydr Res. 2006 Sep 4;341(12):2090-7. doi: 10.1016/j.carres.2006.05.010. Epub 2006 Jun 9.


Dental caries is one of the most common infectious diseases that affects humans. Streptococcus mutans, the main pathogenic bacterium associated with dental caries, produces a number of extracellular sucrose-metabolizing enzymes, such as glucosyltransferases (GTFB, GTFC and GTFD) and fructosyltransferase (FTF). The cooperative action of these enzymes is essential for sucrose-dependent cellular adhesion and biofilm formation. A global response regulator (vicR) plays important roles in S. mutans ftf and gtf expression in response to a variety of stimuli. A real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain-reaction was used to quantify the relative levels of ftf, gtfB, gtfC, gtfD and vicR transcription of S. mutans in the presence of various dietary carbohydrates: sucrose, D-glucose, D-fructose, D-glucitol (D-sorbitol), D-mannitol and xylitol. Ftf was highly expressed at late exponential phase in the presence of sorbitol and mannitol. GtfB was highly expressed in the presence of all the above carbohydrates except for xylitol at early exponential growth phase and glucose and fructose at late exponential growth phase. Similar to gtfB, the expression of gtfC was also induced with the presence of all the tested carbohydrates except for xylitol at early growth and glucose and fructose at late exponential phase. In addition, no effect of mannitol on gtfC expression at early exponential phase was observed. GtfD was less influenced compared to the gtfB and gtfC, demonstrating enhanced expression especially in the presence of sorbitol, glucose, mannitol and xylitol at early exponential phase and mannitol at late exponential phase. VicR expression was induced only at the presence of xylitol at late exponential phase, and a decrease in expression was recorded at early exponential phase. Our findings show that dietary carbohydrates have a major influence on the transcription of ftf, gtfB, gtfC and gtfD, but less on vicR. Sorbitol and mannitol, which are considered as noncariogenic sugar substitutes, may indirectly affect caries by promoting biofilm formation via enhanced expression of gtfs and ftf. These results suggest regulatory circuits for exopolysaccharide gene expression in S. mutans.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Fructose / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Glucosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Hexosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Mannitol / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sorbitol / pharmacology
  • Streptococcus mutans / genetics*
  • Streptococcus mutans / growth & development
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Time Factors
  • Xylitol / pharmacology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • RNA, Messenger
  • YycF protein, Bacteria
  • Fructose
  • Mannitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucrose
  • 1,3-alpha-D-glucan synthase
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • Hexosyltransferases
  • glucosyltransferase C
  • glucosyltransferase D
  • inulosucrase
  • Glucose
  • Xylitol