PMID: 5784196May 1, 1969

Dextran-induced agglutination of Streptococcus mutans, and its potential role in the formation of microbial dental plaques

Journal of Bacteriology
R J Gibbons, R J Fitzgerald


Glucose-grown washed cells of streptococci similar to Streptococcus mutans, which contain cell-bound dextransucrase, have been observed to agglutinate upon the addition of high molecular weight dextran. Low molecular weight dextran or unrelated polysaccharides were ineffective. Agglutination also occurred upon addition of sucrose, which can be converted into dextran, but not with other mono- and disaccharides. Other bacteria, including species capable of synthesizing dextrans, were not observed to exhibit this phenomenon. Cells of S. mutans agglutinated upon addition of dextran over a wide pH range, but maximal sensitivity to dextran occurred at pH 8.5. At this pH, such cells can be used for a simple, specific, and exquisitely sensitive qualitative assay for high molecular weight dextran, for addition of 6 ng of dextran with a molecular weight of 2 x 10(6) (i.e., approximately three molecules per cell) caused detectable agglutination. High concentrations of glucose, levan, and dextran of molecular weight of 2 x 10(4) inhibited the reaction. Fluorescein-labeled cells of S. mutans were observed to adhere to dextran-containing plaques and dextran-treated teeth, suggesting that this phenomenon may be of importance in the formation ...Continue Reading


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