Protein expression profiling, in silico classification and pathway analysis of cariogenic bacteria Streptococcus mutans under bacitracin stress conditions

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Journal of medical microbiology


Introduction: Streptococcus mutans is a cariogenic bacterium that causes dental caries as well as being implicated in other dental pathologies and infective endocarditis. Bacitracin is a bactericidal antibiotic that induces cell wall stress in Gram-positive bacteria.

Gap Statement: S. mutans is among the most characterized Gram-positive bacteria. However, the transcriptome and proteome of S. mutans have received less attention, and they are actually key in understanding the pathogenesis of any bacteria. In this study, we extracted the whole proteome of S. mutans grown under bacitracin stress. Such a proteome is anticipated to offer deep insights related to physiological dynamic fluctuations and, consequently, it may provide 'proteomic signatures' to be identified as potential targets.

Aim: The aim of the study is to explore the general stress response that S. mutans exhibits at the proteome level when cell wall stress is imposed on it.

Methodology: A sub-MIC concentration of bacitracin was added to the growth media of S. mutans followed by whole-cell protein extraction. The proteome was then subjected to high-throughput proteomics analysis, i.e. liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Differentially expressed proteins obtained through LC-MS/MS underwent analyses such as gene ontology, KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopaedia of Genes and Genomes) and DAVID (Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery) analysis, and STRING for functional annotation, pathway enrichment and protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks, respectively. These proteins were also categorized into functional classes using the PANTHER (Protein Annotation Through Evolutionary Relationship) classification system.

Result: LC-MS/MS produced data from 321 identified proteins. From these, 41 and 30 were found to be significantly over- (≥2 fold change) and underexpressed (≤0.4 fold change), respectively. In the upregulated proteins we mostly observed sortases and proteins involved in the EPS biosynthesis pathway, whereas among the downregulated proteins the majority related to glycolysis.

Conclusion: The sortase family of proteins appear to be potential targets because they regulate various virulence factors and therefore can be targeted to inhibit multiple virulence pathways simultaneously. This study offers an understanding of proteomic fluctuations in response to cell wall stress and can thus help in identifying key players mediating virulence.

Medical Subject Headings

Anti-Bacterial Agents; Bacitracin; Biofilms; Chromatography, Liquid; Dental Caries; Humans; Proteome; Proteomics; Streptococcus mutans; Tandem Mass Spectrometry

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