Increased oxidative stress tolerance of a spontaneously occurring perr gene mutation in streptococcus mutans UA159

Jessica K. Kajfasz, Peter Zuber, Tridib Ganguly, Jacqueline Abranches, José A. Lemos

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Scopus citations


    The ability of bacteria, such as the dental pathogen Streptococcus mutans, to coordinate a response against damage-inducing oxidants is a critical aspect of their pathogenicity. The oxidative stress regulator SpxA1 has been demonstrated to be a major player in the ability of S. mutans to withstand both disulfide and peroxide stresses. While studying spontaneously occurring variants of an S. mutans DspxA1 strain, we serendipitously discovered that our S. mutans UA159 host strain bore a single-nucleotide deletion within the coding region of perR, resulting in a premature truncation of the encoded protein. PerR is a metal-dependent transcriptional repressor that senses and responds to peroxide stress such that loss of PerR activity results in activation of oxidative stress responses. To determine the impact of loss of PerR regulation, we obtained a UA159 isolate bearing an intact perR copy and created a clean perR deletion mutant. Our findings indicate that loss of PerR activity results in a strain that is primed to tolerate oxidative stresses in the laboratory setting. Interestingly, RNA deep sequencing (RNA-Seq) and targeted transcriptional expression analyses reveal that PerR offers a minor contribution to the ability of S. mutans to orchestrate a transcriptional response to peroxide stress. Furthermore, we detected loss-of-function perR mutations in two other commonly used laboratory strains of S. mutans, suggesting that this may be not be an uncommon occurrence. This report serves as a cautionary tale regarding the so-called domestication of laboratory strains and advocates for the implementation of more stringent strain authentication practices.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere00535-20
    JournalJournal of bacteriology
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Apr 2021


    • Mutation
    • Oxidative stress
    • PerR
    • S. mutans

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Microbiology
    • Molecular Biology


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