Cariogenic Streptococcus mutans produces strain-specific antibiotics that impair commensal colonization

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Xiaoyu Tang, Yuta Kudob , Jonathon Baker , Sandra LaBonte , Peter A. Jordan, Shaun M. K. McKinnie, Jian Guo, Tao Huan, Bradley S. Moore and Anna Edlun

bioRxiv Preprint first posted online Sep. 4, 2019; doi:

COMMENT: This work is focused on the analysis of biosynthetic gene clusters in Streptococcus mutans able to produce small active molecules that could give competitive advantage to this abundant bacteria abundant in dental plaque and involved in dental caries.

Dental caries is a polymicrobial disease but Streptococcus mutans considered the most important etiologic agent. In addition to its known capacities for acid production and biofilm formation in this work the authors reveal that also produces small active molecules to to outcompete with commensal bacteria.

The authors describe in Streptococcus mutans B04Sm5, a biosynthetic pathway that can produce three types of compounds:

  • three N-acyl tetramic acids that display antibacterial properties against oral commensal bacteria
  • a new organic acid with anti-inflammatory activity in a mice model
  • a previously characterized Streptococcus diffusible signal factor (SDSF) with able  to interact with pathogenic oral fungi

The authors conclude:

While this study merely scrapes the “tip of the iceberg” of the recently identified oral biosynthetic potential, these findings clearly exemplify that deeper exploration of leads provided by genome mining studies will help elucidate the complex ecological underpinnings of the human microbiome and its relationship to disease.


Raquel Tobes