Streptococcus sanguinis, a normal inhabitant of the human oral cavity, has low cariogenicity, though colonization on tooth surfaces by this bacterium initiates aggregation by other oral bacteria and maturation of dental plaque. Additionally,
S. sanguinis is frequently isolated from infective endocarditis patients. We investigated the functions of sortase A (SrtA), which cleaves LPXTG-containing proteins and anchors them to the bacterial cell wall, as a possible virulence factor of
We identified the
srtA gene of
S. sanguinis by searching a homologous gene of
Streptococcus mutans in genome databases. Next, we constructed an
srtA-deficient mutant strain of
S. sanguinis by insertional inactivation and compared it to the wild type strain.
In the case of the mutant strain, some surface proteins could not anchor to the cell wall and were partially released into the culture supernatant. Furthermore, adherence to saliva-coated hydroxyapatite beads and polystyrene plates, as well as adherence to and invasion of human epithelial cells were reduced significantly in the
srtA-deficient strain when compared to the wild type. In addition, antiopsonization levels and bacterial survival of the
srtA-deficient mutant were decreased in human whole blood.
This is the first known study to report that SrtA contributes to antiopsonization in streptococci. Our results suggest that SrtA anchors surface adhesins as well as some proteins that function as antiopsonic molecules as a means of evading the human immune system. Furthermore, they demonstrate that SrtA of
S. sanguinis plays important roles in bacterial colonization.