Fueling the caries process: carbohydrate metabolism and gene regulation by Streptococcus mutans

Journal of Oral Microbiology
Zachary D MoyeRobert A Burne


The nature of the oral cavity and host behaviors has mandated that the oral microbiota evolve mechanisms for coping with environmental fluctuations, especially changes in the type and availability of carbohydrates. In the case of human dental caries, the presence of excess carbohydrates is often responsible for altering the local environment to be more favorable for species associated with the initiation and progression of disease, including Streptococcus mutans. Some of the earliest endeavors to understand how cariogenic species respond to environmental perturbations were carried out using chemostat cultivation, which provides fine control over culture conditions and bacterial behaviors. The development of genome-scale methodologies has allowed for the combination of sophisticated cultivation technologies with genome-level analysis to more thoroughly probe how bacterial pathogens respond to environmental stimuli. Recent investigations in S. mutans and other closely related streptococci have begun to reveal that carbohydrate metabolism can drastically impact pathogenic potential and highlight the important influence that nutrient acquisition has on the success of pathogens; inside and outside of the oral cavity. Collectively, r...Continue Reading


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