SUMMARY: Four strains of serotype differing in glucosyltransferase (GTase) and fructosyltransferase (FTase) activities were examined. These strains had been made resistant to streptomycin. FTase activity of an clinical variant, MT6801R, which forms large mucoid colonies on sucrose-containing agar, was considerably higher than that of a typical serotype strain, MT8148R, which forms small, rough colonies on the same agar. Two mutants, NG14 and NG7183, were induced from strain MT6801R by -methyl--nitro--nitrosoguanidine, and were found to be streptomycin-resistant. GTase and FTase activities of mutant NG14 were similar to those of the typical serotype strain, while in mutant NG7183 the two enzyme activities were very low. Growing cells of these strains (except NG7183) adhered firmly to a glass surface in sucrose broth. Resting cells of all strains attached in small numbers to saliva-coated hydroxyapatite in the absence of sucrose. On the other hand, the presence of sucrose markedly enhanced the attachment of cells of strains MT8148R, MT6801R and NG14, but not NG7183. Cell-surface hydrophobicity and acid production of all strains were similar. Both strain MT8148R and NG14 colonized tooth surfaces and produced significant dental caries in specific-pathogen-free rats. Strain MT6801R had lower colonization ability and cariogenicity when compared with strains MT8148R and NG14. Furthermore, mutant NG7183 was able to colonize the tooth surfaces in small numbers, but failed to cause dental caries. These results indicate that sucrose-dependent cell adherence mediated by glucan synthesis is necessary for the accumulation of serotype cells on the tooth surface and the induction of dental caries.


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