and biofilm formation
Tannerella forsythia is an anaerobic periodontal pathogen that encounters constant oxidative stress in the human oral cavity due to exposure to air and reactive oxidative species from coexisting dental plaque bacteria as well as leukocytes. In this study, we sought to characterize a T. forsythia ORF with close similarity to bacterial oxidative stress response sensor protein OxyR. To analyse the role of this OxyR homologue, a gene deletion mutant was constructed and characterized. Aerotolerance, survival after hydrogen peroxide challenge and transcription levels of known bacterial antioxidant genes were then determined. Since an association between oxidative stress and biofilm formation has been observed in bacterial systems, we also investigated the role of the OxyR protein in biofilm development by T. forsythia. Our results showed that aerotolerance, sensitivity to peroxide challenge and the expression of oxidative stress response genes were significantly reduced in the mutant as compared with the wild-type strain. Moreover, the results of biofilm analyses showed that, as compared with the wild-type strain, the oxyR mutant showed significantly less autoaggregation and a reduced ability to form mixed biofilms with Fusobacterium nucleatum. In conclusion, a gene annotated in the T. forsythia genome as an oxyR homologue was characterized. Our studies showed that the oxyR homologue in T. forsythia constitutively activates antioxidant genes involved in resistance to peroxides as well as oxygen stress (aerotolerance). In addition, the oxyR deletion attenuates biofilm formation in T. forsythia.