Amino Sugars Modify Antagonistic Interactions between Commensal Oral Streptococci and Streptococcus mutans
N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) and glucosamine (GlcN) enhance the competitiveness of the laboratory strain DL1 of Streptococcus gordonii against the caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans. Here we examine how amino sugars affect the interaction of five low-passage clinical isolates of abundant commensal streptococci with S. mutans utilizing a dual-species biofilm model. Compared to glucose, growth on GlcN or GlcNAc significantly reduced the viability of S. mutans in co-cultures with most commensals, shifting the proportions of species. Consistent with these results, production of H2O2 was increased in most commensals when growing on amino sugars, and inhibition of S. mutans by Streptococcus cristatus, Streptococcus oralis, or S. gordonii was enhanced by amino sugars on agar plates. All commensals except S. oralis had higher arginine deiminase activities when grown on GlcN, and in some cases GlcNAc. In ex vivo biofilms formed using pooled cell-containing saliva (CCS), the proportions of S. mutans were drastically diminished when GlcNAc was the primary carbohydrate. Increased production of H2O2 could account in large part for the inhibitory effects of CCS biofilms. Surprisingly, amino sugars appeared to improve mutacin production by S. mutans on agar plates, suggesting that the commensals have mechanisms to actively subvert antagonism by S. mutans in co-cultures. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that amino sugars can enhance the beneficial properties of low-passage commensal oral streptococci and highlight their potential for moderating the cariogenicity of oral biofilms.
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