Glycosyltransferase-mediated sweet modification in oral streptococci

F. Zhu, H. Zhang, H. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Bacterial glycosyltransferases play important roles in bacterial fitness and virulence. Oral streptococci have evolved diverse strategies to survive and thrive in the carbohydrate-rich oral cavity. In this review, we discuss 2 important biological processes mediated by 2 distinct groups of glycosyltransferases in oral streptococci that are important for bacterial colonization and virulence. The first process is the glycosylation of highly conserved serine-rich repeat adhesins by a series of glycosyltransferases. Using Streptococcus parasanguinis as a model, we highlight new features of several glycosyltransferases that sequentially modify the serine-rich glycoprotein Fap1. Distinct features of a novel glycosyltransferase fold from a domain of unknown function 1792 are contrasted with common properties of canonical glycosyltransferases. The second biological process we cover is involved in building sticky glucan matrix to establish cariogenic biofilms by an important opportunistic pathogen Streptococcus mutans through the action of a family of 3 glucosyltransferases. We focus on discussing the structural feature of this family as a glycoside hydrolase family of enzymes. While the 2 processes are distinct, they all produce carbohydrate-coated biomolecules, which enable bacteria to stick better in the complex oral microbiome. Understanding the making of the sweet modification presents a unique opportunity to develop novel antiadhesion and antibiofilm strategies to fight infections by oral streptococci and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-665
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 9 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D molecular structure
  • biofilm
  • carbohydrate
  • glucans
  • glycosylation
  • serine-rich repeat glycoproteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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