Factors regulating cell wall thickening and intracellular iodophilic polysaccharide storage in Streptococcus mutans

S. J. Mattingly, L. Daneo Moore, G. D. Shockman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The effects of a series of different antibiotics on the synthesis and accumulation of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA), protein, cell wall peptidoglycan (PG), and intracellular iodophilic polysaccharide (IPS) in S. mutans FA-1 were examined. D-Cycloserine, penicillin G, or vancomycin treatment resulted in rapid inhibitions of PG synthesis and a consequent decrease in the relative amount of lysine found in PG fractions. Decreases in culture turbidity, an indicator of gross cellular lysis, were not observed. Secondary inhibitions of the rates and extent of syntheses of DNA, RNA, and protein were observed. With all three inhibitors of PG synthesis, IPS synthesis continued for varying time intervals but, at most, resulted in only relatively small and transient increases in cellular IPS content. Chloramphenicol inhibited protein synthesis but permitted continued synthesis of RNA and PG. After 6 h, the cells contained 42% of their [3H]lysine in the PG fraction compared with 25% in exponential-phase cells, a good indication of thickened cell walls. In the presence of chloramphenicol, cellular IPS content increased about 2.5-fold during the first 45 min and then decreased to a level (13%) at 6 h very similar to that of exponential-phase cells (about 10%). Rifampin inhibition of RNA (and, consequently, also protein) synthesis resulted in accumulation of cellular PG and IPS. After 6 h, IPS accounted for 38% of the cellular dry weight, and the cells contained 43% of their lysine in PG. Thus, rifampin-inhibited cells appear to have both thickened walls and a high IPS content. The correlation between inhibition of RNA synthesis and IPS accumulation was confirmed by exposing cultures to rifampin for 60 min and then removing the drug, thus permitting the cells to regrow. Upon removal of rifampin and resumption of RNA synthesis, cellular IPS content raidly decreased to the level expected for exponential-phase cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-973
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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