Previous research with and other oral streptococci has demonstrated that the acid shock of exponential-phase cells (pH 75 to 55) resulted in the induction of an acid tolerance response (ATR) increasing survival at low pH (35–30). The current study was designed to determine whether two fresh isolates, H7 and BM71, and two laboratory strains, Ingbritt and LT11, were capable of a stationary-phase ATR as estimated by a survival test at pH 35 for 3 h. All four strains were unable to generate a stationary-phase ATR under control conditions at pH 75, with the exception of a burst of survivors in the transition between the exponential and stationary phases when the carbon source (glucose) was depleted. Adaptation at pH 55 resulted in the expected pH-dependent exponential-phase ATR, but only the fresh isolates exhibited a stationary-phase ATR at this pH. Glucose starvation of cells in complex medium was shown to enhance acid tolerance for the fresh isolates, but not the laboratory strains. This tolerance was, however, greatly diminished for all strains in a defined medium with a low concentration of amino acids. Growth of strain H7 in complex medium resulted in the formation of at least 56 extracellular proteins, nine of which were degraded in the early stationary phase following the induction of proteolytic activity during the transition period. No proteolytic activity was observed with strain LT11 and only 19 extracellular proteins/peptides were apparent in the medium with only one being degraded in the early stationary phase. Strain H7 was also shown to have two- to fourfold higher levels of intracellular glycogen in the stationary phase than strain LT11. These results suggest that H7 possessed the required endogenous metabolism to support amino acid/peptide uptake in the early-stationary phase, which resulted in the formation of basic end products that, in turn, contributed to enhanced intracellular pH homeostasis.


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