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Predicted Protein May Be Important in Biofilm Formation

May 4, 2005

When a team of scientists published the complete DNA sequence of the bacterium Streptococcus mutans in October 2002, many predicted the data would accelerate studies of this key oral pathogen. Scientists now could systematically analyze the organism’s more than 1,900 recognized genes and work out predictions of the chemical structures of their protein products. This would allow them to use powerful computer tools to sort out the more interesting proteins and determine which might be effective targets to prevent or treat developing tooth decay. As the latest example of how the S. mutans genome is paying off with important new leads, NIDCR grantees report that inactivating the gene called Smu0630 leads to a dramatic decrease in biofilm formation in the laboratory. What makes this new lead especially interesting is the gene’s predicted protein contains structural motifs, or regions, that thus far have been found exclusively within the streptococcal species, an indication they might have evolutionary significance to these bacteria. The authors concluded, “Should these regions prove critical to adherence and biofilm maturation, the repeat region may prove to be a desirable target for therapeutics that disrupt biofilm formation.”

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014