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Scientists Complete Full Sequence of Opportunistic Oral Bacterium

April 25, 2007

Over the last decade, scientists have assembled the complete DNA sequences of several important members of the oral biofilm, from Streptococcus mutans to Porphymonas gingivalis to Treponema denticola.  In the April issue of the Journal of Bacteriology, NIDCR-funded investigators have added another big name to the list.  It is the bacterium Streptococcus sanguinis, an early colonizer of the dental pellicle and a key player in the formation of the oral biofilm.  Although not regarded as a pathogen in the mouth, S. sanguinis is known to enter the bloodstream, where it has a propensity to colonize the heart valves and contribute to bacterial endocarditis, a condition the kills an estimated 2,000 Americans each year.  With the bacterium’s genetic blueprint now publicly available online, scientists can better study the dynamics of biofilm formation and possibly tease out new leads to prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease.  They also now can systematically identify and exploit the weak spots written into the DNA of S. sanguinis, invaluable information in designing more effective treatments for endocarditis.  


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This page last updated: February 26, 2014