Role of the Streptococcus mutans irvA gene in GbpC-independent, dextran-dependent aggregation and biofilm formation

Min Zhu, Dragana Ajdić, Yuan Liu, David Lynch, Justin Merritt, Jeffrey A. Banas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Dextran-dependent aggregation (DDAG) of Streptococcus mutans is an in vitro phenomenon that is believed to represent a property of the organism that is beneficial for sucrose-dependent biofilm development. GbpC, a cell surface glucan-binding protein, is responsible for DDAG in S. mutans when cultured under defined stressful conditions. Recent reports have described a putative transcriptional regulator gene, irvA, located just upstream of gbpC, that is normally repressed by the product of an adjacent gene, irvR. When repression of irvA is relieved, there is a resulting increase in the expression of GbpC and decreases in competence and synthesis of the antibiotic mutacin I. This study examined the role of irvA in DDAG and biofilm formation by engineering strains that overexpressed irvA (IrvA+) on an extrachromosomal plasmid. The IrvA+ strain displayed large aggregation particles that did not require stressful growth conditions. A novel finding was that overexpression of irvA in a gbpC mutant background retained a measure of DDAG, albeit very small aggregation particles. Biofilms formed by the IrvA+ strain in the parental background possessed larger-than-normal microcolonies. In a gbpC mutant background, the overexpression of irvA reversed the fragile biofilm phenotype normally associated with loss of GbpC. Real-time PCR and Northern blot analyses found that expression of gbpC did not change significantly in the IrvA+ strain but expression of spaP, encoding the major surface adhesin P1, increased significantly. Inactivation of spaP eliminated the small-particle DDAG. The results suggest that IrvA promotes DDAG not only by GbpC, but also via an increase in P1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7037-7043
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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