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Polymers for binding of the gram-positive oral pathogen Streptococcus mutans

Magennis, Eugene Peter; Francini, Nora; Mastrotto, Francesca; Catania, Rosa; Redhead, Martin; Fernandez-Trillo, Francisco; Bradshaw, David; Churchley, David; Winzer, Klaus; Alexander, Cameron; Mantovani, Giuseppe

Polymers for binding of the gram-positive oral pathogen Streptococcus mutans Thumbnail


Eugene Peter Magennis

Nora Francini

Francesca Mastrotto

Rosa Catania

Martin Redhead

Francisco Fernandez-Trillo

David Bradshaw

David Churchley


Streptococcus mutans is the most significant pathogenic bacterium implicated in the formation of dental caries and, both directly and indirectly, has been associated with severe conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cerebrovascular and peripheral artery disease. Polymers able to selectively bind S. mutans and/or inhibit its adhesion to oral tissue in a non-lethal manner would offer possibilities for addressing pathogenicity without selecting for populations resistant against bactericidal agents. In the present work two libraries of 2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (pDMAEMA)-based polymers were synthesized with various proportions of either N,N,N-trimethylethanaminium cationic- or sulfobetaine zwitterionic groups. These copolymers where initially tested as potential macromolecular ligands for S. mutans NCTC 10449, whilst Escherichia coli MG1655 was used as Gram-negative control bacteria. pDMAEMA-derived materials with high proportions of zwitterionic repeating units were found to be selective for S. mutans, in both isolated and S. mutans – E. coli mixed bacterial cultures. Fully sulfobetainized pDMAEMA was subsequently found to bind/cluster preferentially Gram-positive S. mutans and S. aureus compared to Gram negative E. coli and V. harveyi. A key initial stage of S. mutans pathogenesis involves a lectin-mediated adhesion to the tooth surface, thus the range of potential macromolecular ligands was further expanded by investigating two glycopolymers bearing α-mannopyranoside and β-galactopyranoside pendant units. Results with these polymers indicated that preferential binding to either S. mutans or E. coli can be obtained by modulating the glycosylation pattern of the chosen multivalent ligands without incurring unacceptable cytotoxicity in a model gastrointestinal cell line. Overall, our results allowed to identify a structure–property relationship for the potential antimicrobial polymers investigated, and suggest that preferential binding to Gram-positive S. mutans could be achieved by fine-tuning of the recognition elements in the polymer ligands.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 19, 2017
Publication Date Jul 3, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 3, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 3, 2017
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 7
Article Number e018008
Public URL
Publisher URL


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