, 2009). Streptococcus mutans is an opportunistic pathogen considered as one of the principle etiological
agents of dental caries. Natural genetic transformation of this bacterium was shown to be modulated by a quorum sensing (QS) signaling system comprised of a ComDE two component signaling system, which responds to a peptide signaling molecule designated the competence stimulating peptide (CSP) (Li et al., 2001). In addition to eliciting the competence phenotype, the CSP signaling pathway also contributes to proper biofilm formation, bacteriocin production and stress Alectinib tolerance in S. mutans (Senadheera & Cvitkovitch, 2008). Intriguingly, the CSP-induced genetic Selleckchem SB431542 transformation pathway also modulates cellular lysis in a fraction of the population in S. mutans cultures (Qi et al., 2005; Perry et al., 2009). Development of genetic competence is directly correlated with activation of an alternate sigma factor, ComX, which depends on ComE activity and that of another regulatory protein, ComR that responds to an internalized signaling peptide called XIP (Mashburn-Warren et al., 2010). Recently, it was demonstrated that ComX was
expressed only in a fraction of the CSP-induced population, which resulted in the bifurcation of the population into fractions undergoing competence or cell death (Mashburn-Warren et al., 2010; Lemme et al., 2011). Although transcriptome analysis has shown the regulation of nearly 240 genes by ComX (Perry et al., 2009), most of these putative “late competence
genes” modulating competence and cell lysis remain uncharacterized to date. Here, we studied a ComX-regulated gene designated the competence induced protein A (cinA) in S. mutans. Recently, Okinaga et al. (2010) showed that the HdrRM system regulated expression of cinA via ComX in S. mutans. While cinA’s putative functions have not been closely examined in S. mutans, in Streptococcus pneumoniae, its ortholog belongs to the ComX-activated “late competence” Etofibrate regulon (Masure et al., 1998; Mortier-Barriere et al., 1998). In pneumococci, cinA is part of the rec locus, which includes recA that facilitates homologous recombination between single- and double-stranded DNA during genetic transformation (Kowalczykowski, 1994; Camerini-Otero & Hsieh, 1995). While CinA in S. pneumoniae was shown to facilitate transport of RecA to the membrane during genetic transformation (Masure et al., 1998), studies in Bacillus subtilis suggested that CinA is not specific to competence, but instead is a nucleoid-associated protein that serves a general role in cells entering stationary phase (Kaimer & Graumann, 2010). Here we report that cinA transcription is modulated by ComX in response to CSP, and that cinA is required for optimal genetic transformation in S. mutans.