Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version

January 1983


Published in JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY, Jan. 1983, p. 211-221. Copyright © 1983, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Chromosomal DNA from Streptococcus mutans strain UAB90 (serotype c) was cloned into Escherichia coli K-12. The clone bank was screened for any sucrosehydrolyzing activity by selection for growth on raffinose in the presence of isopropyl- β-D-thiogalactoside. A clone expressing an S. mutans glucosyltransferase was identified. The S. mutans DNA encoding this enzyme is a 1.73-kilobase fragment cloned into the HindIII site of plasmid pBR322. We designated the gene gtfA. The plasmid-encoded gtfA enzyme, a 55,000-molecular-weight protein, is synthesized at 40% the level of pBR322-encoded β-lactamase in E. coli minicells. Using sucrose as substrate, the gtfA enzyme catalyzes the formation of fructose and a glucan with an apparent molecular weight of 1,500. We detected the gtfA protein in S. mutans cells with antibody raised against the cloned gtfA enzyme. Immunologically identical gtfA protein appears to be present in S. mutans cells of serotypes c, e, and f, and a cross-reacting protein was made by serotype b cells. Proteins from serotype a, g, and d S. mutans cells did not react with antibody to gtfA enzyme. The gtfA activity was present in the periplasmic space of E. coli clones, since 15% of the total gtfA activity was released by cold osmotic shock and the clones were able to grow on sucrose as sole carbon source.