Characterization of hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA release by Streptococcus sanguinis and Streptococcus gordonii

Jens Kreth, Hung Vu, Yongshu Zhang, Mark C. Herzberg

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66 Scopus citations


Extracellular DNA (eDNA) is produced by several bacterial species and appears to contribute to biofilm development and cell-cell adhesion. We present data showing that the oral commensals Streptococcus sanguinis and Streptococcus gordonii release DNA in a process induced by pyruvate oxidase-dependent production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Surprisingly, S. sanguinis and S. gordonii cell integrity appears unaffected by conditions that cause autolysis in other eDNA-producing bacteria. Exogenous H2O 2 causes release of DNA from S. sanguinis and S. gordonii but does not result in obvious lysis of cells. Under DNA-releasing conditions, cell walls appear functionally intact and ribosomes are retained over time. During DNA release, intracellular RNA and ATP are not coreleased. Hence, the release mechanism appears to be highly specific for DNA. Release of DNA without detectable autolysis is suggested to be an adaptation to the competitive oral biofilm environment, where autolysis could create open spaces for competitors to invade. Since eDNA promotes cell-to-cell adhesion, release appears to support oral biofilm formation and facilitates exchange of genetic material among competent strains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6281-6291
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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