Beyond Cell Division: the Ecological Roles of Autolysins in Oral Biofilm Communities

Nyssa Cullin, Justin Merritt, Jens Kreth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: The goal of this review is to address the complicated nature of autolysins found among oral bacteria and the roles they play within the oral biofilm. The various functions of autolysins are discussed, as well as the regulation of autolysins and overall contribution to biofilms and the oral environment. Recent Findings: With their many functions, bacterial autolysins can be understood as contributing to both cell physiology and population dynamics within the oral environment. Cell division, peptidoglycan turnover/remodeling, fratricide, and programmed cell death are all influenced, if not controlled, by autolysins. The release of nutrients and DNA as functional byproducts of lysins can alter the biofilm by affecting the growth and overall genetic makeup of the diverse bacteria. Summary: Autolysins and their various functions contribute to biofilm formation, horizontal gene transfer, and the overall health of the oral cavity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Oral Health Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017


  • Autolysin
  • Biofilms
  • Oral bacteria
  • Peptidoglycan hydrolase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
  • Oral Surgery
  • Surgery


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