Antigenic characterization of fimbria preparations from Streptococcus mutans isolates from caries-free and caries-susceptible subjects

Marianella Perrone, Linda E. Gfell, Margherita Fontana, Richard L. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


The adhesion of pathogenic bacteria to the host surface is an essential step in the development of numerous infections, including dental caries. Attachment of Streptococcus mutans, the main etiological agent of human dental caries, to the tooth surface may be mediated by glucan synthesized by glucosyltransferase (GTF) and by cell surface proteins, such as P1, which bind to salivary receptors. Fimbriae on the surfaces of many microorganisms are known to function in bacterial adhesion. Previous studies in this laboratory have initially characterized the fibrillar surface of S. mutans. The purpose of this investigation was the comparison of the antigenic properties of fimbria preparations of S. mutans isolates from five caries- resistant (CR) and six caries-susceptible (CS) subjects. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis of S. mutans fimbrial preparations revealed five major protein bands at 200, 175, 157, 86, and 66 kDa in preparations from CR and CS subjects. Immunoblot analysis indicated the presence of the same major bands recognized by anti-S. mutans fimbria antisera. Furthermore, the 175- and 157-kDa bands were recognized by antibodies to P1 and GTF, respectively. Immunoblot analysis with antisera to the fimbria preparation, to P1, or to GTF indicated that the levels of fimbria-reactive components and P1 and GTF antigens were higher in S. mutans fimbria preparations from CS subjects than in those from CR individuals. For example, four of six fimbria preparations from CS patients had demonstrable P1, and all had GTF. In contrast, only two of five CR fimbrial preparations exhibited P1 and GTF. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay demonstrated similar results for levels of GTF antigen in the fimbrial preparations from CR and CS subjects. The results suggest that differences between the compositions of S. mutans fimbriae in CR and CS individuals may play an important role in the virulence of this microorganism in dental caries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-296
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)

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