Dental plaque represents one of the most complex microbial communities or biofilms known to afflict man. Oral biofilm-related diseases - dental carries, gingivitis and periodontitis - devastate a large human population and continue to pose a huge economic burden due to the lack of effective therapies. The long-term goal of this project is to elucidate the basic mechanisms of oral biofilm development and identify key players that may be attractive targets for developing drugs and vaccines. The development of dental plaque begins with the attachment of early bacterial colonizers to the tooth enamel, generating an adhesive matrix that then attracts the intermediate and late colonizers. Actinomyces is a key early colonizer that plays a prominent role in biofilm development by virtue of its ability to directly interact not only with the tooth surface but also with a number of both early and intermediate colonizers. Therefore, our studies have focused on dissecting the adhesive principles, i.e. fimbriae and other surface proteins, specifically involved in these interactions ad the mechanism of their assembly on the bacterial surface. During the past grant period, we succeeded in developing a facile new gene disruption technology for Actinomyces oris, and through it, identified the key components of two distinct fimbriae that are pivotal in the aforementioned cell-cell interactions. We showed that the tip fimbrillin FimQ serves dual functions, facilitating the assembly of type 1 fimbriae and directly mediating bacterial adherence to salivary proline-rich proteins known to coat the tooth surface. In contrast, the shaft fimbrilli FimA of the type 2 fimbriae mediates the receptor polysaccharide-dependent coaggregation with oral streptococci, adherence to erythrocytes and biofilm development. Structural studies revealed two adhesive IgG-like modules of FimA essential for its multivalent functions. Significantly, we showed that polymerization of these fimbrillins into fimbrial polymers requires their cognate fimbriae-specific sortase, a conserved transpeptidase in Gram-positive bacteria. The resulting polymers are anchored to the cell wall by the housekeeping sortase SrtA, which is also essential for the cell wall anchoring of many surface proteins with a cell wall sorting signal One of these, AcaF, is found to play a significant role in bacterial coaggregation. Most importantly, we discovered that inactivation of SrtA greatly perturbs bacterial morphology accompanied with abnormal cell wall and septa. Thus, the sortase machinery is a key player of bacterial pathogenesis and fitness in A. oris. Driven by these major advancements and several new hypotheses, the continuation proposal has three major aims: (1) Uncover the physiological function and regulation of sortase SrtA in cell surface homeostasis, (2) Dissect the molecular interactions of fimbrillins and non-fimbrial surface proteins with various cellular receptors, (3) Further elucidate the fundamental mechanisms of fimbrial assembly in Actinomyces, delineate the distinct mechanism of fimbrial assembly mediated by the tip fimbrillin FimQ, and identify trans- acting factors required for sortase-mediated fimbrial assembly.

Public Health Relevance

Our studies focus on characterization of surface structures of oral bacteria Actinomyces that play an important role in the formation of oral biofilms or dental plaque. The novel findings emerging from these studies show great promise for the development of new classes of inhibitors which block the assembly of surface structures as one of the strategies for preventing oral biofilm-associated diseases.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
3R01DE017382-07S1
Application #
8911399
Study Section
Oral, Dental and Craniofacial Sciences Study Section (ODCS)
Program Officer
Lunsford, Dwayne
Project Start
2008-02-19
Project End
2017-11-30
Budget Start
2014-09-01
Budget End
2014-11-30
Support Year
7
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Texas Health Science Center Houston
Department
Microbiology/Immun/Virology
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
City
Houston
State
TX
Country
United States
Zip Code
77225
Montealegre, Maria Camila; Singh, Kavindra V; Somarajan, Sudha R et al. (2016) Role of the Emp Pilus Subunits of Enterococcus faecium in Biofilm Formation, Adherence to Host Extracellular Matrix Components, and Experimental Infection. Infect Immun 84:1491-500
Siegel, Sara D; Reardon, Melissa E; Ton-That, Hung (2016) Anchoring of LPXTG-Like Proteins to the Gram-Positive Cell Wall Envelope. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol :
Wu, Chenggang; Reardon-Robinson, Melissa Elizabeth; Ton-That, Hung (2016) Genetics and Cell Morphology Analyses of the Actinomyces oris srtA Mutant. Methods Mol Biol 1440:109-22
Reardon-Robinson, Melissa E; Ton-That, Hung (2016) Disulfide-Bond-Forming Pathways in Gram-Positive Bacteria. J Bacteriol 198:746-54
Siegel, Sara D; Wu, Chenggang; Ton-That, Hung (2016) A Type I Signal Peptidase Is Required for Pilus Assembly in the Gram-Positive, Biofilm-Forming Bacterium Actinomyces oris. J Bacteriol 198:2064-73
Siegel, Sara D; Liu, Jun; Ton-That, Hung (2016) Biogenesis of the Gram-positive bacterial cell envelope. Curr Opin Microbiol 34:31-37
Echelman, Daniel J; Alegre-Cebollada, Jorge; Badilla, Carmen L et al. (2016) CnaA domains in bacterial pili are efficient dissipaters of large mechanical shocks. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113:2490-5
Reardon-Robinson, Melissa E; Osipiuk, Jerzy; Chang, Chungyu et al. (2015) A Disulfide Bond-forming Machine Is Linked to the Sortase-mediated Pilus Assembly Pathway in the Gram-positive Bacterium Actinomyces oris. J Biol Chem 290:21393-405
Reardon-Robinson, Melissa E; Wu, Chenggang; Mishra, Arunima et al. (2014) Pilus hijacking by a bacterial coaggregation factor critical for oral biofilm development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:3835-40
Wu, Chenggang; Huang, I-Hsiu; Chang, Chungyu et al. (2014) Lethality of sortase depletion in Actinomyces oris caused by excessive membrane accumulation of a surface glycoprotein. Mol Microbiol 94:1227-41

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications