Involvement of signal peptidase I in Streptococcus sanguinis biofilm formation

Microbiology (Reading). 2017 Sep;163(9):1306-1318. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000516. Epub 2017 Sep 4.


Biofilm accounts for 65-80 % of microbial infections in humans. Considerable evidence links biofilm formation by oral microbiota to oral disease and consequently systemic infections. Streptococcus sanguinis, a Gram-positive bacterium, is one of the most abundant species of the oral microbiota and it contributes to biofilm development in the oral cavity. Due to its altered biofilm formation, we investigated a biofilm mutant, ΔSSA_0351, that is deficient in type I signal peptidase (SPase) in this study. Although the growth curve of the ΔSSA_0351 mutant showed no significant difference from that of the wild-type strain SK36, biofilm assays using both microtitre plate assay and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) confirmed a sharp reduction in biofilm formation in the mutant compared to the wild-type strain and the paralogous mutant ΔSSA_0849. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed remarkable differences in the cell surface morphologies and chain length of the ΔSSA_0351 mutant compared with those of the wild-type strain. Transcriptomic and proteomic assays using RNA sequencing and mass spectrometry, respectively, were conducted on the ΔSSA_0351 mutant to evaluate the functional impact of SPase on biofilm formation. Subsequently, bioinformatics analysis revealed a number of proteins that were differentially regulated in the ΔSSA_0351 mutant, narrowing down the list of SPase substrates involved in biofilm formation to lactate dehydrogenase (SSA_1221) and a short-chain dehydrogenase (SSA_0291). With further experimentation, this list defined the link between SSA_0351-encoded SPase, cell wall biosynthesis and biofilm formation.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Cues
  • Data Mining / methods
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Serine Endopeptidases / genetics*
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Streptococcus sanguis / physiology*
  • Streptococcus sanguis / ultrastructure


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • type I signal peptidase