Genome-wide transcriptional changes in Streptococcus gordonii in response to competence signaling peptide.
Streptococcus gordonii is a primary colonizer of the multispecies biofilm on tooth surfaces forming dental plaque and a potential agent of endocarditis. The recent completion of the genome sequence of the naturally competent strain Challis allowed the design of a spotted oligonucleotide microarray to examine a genome-wide response of this organism to environmental stimuli such as signal peptides. Based on temporal responses to synthetic competence signaling peptide (CSP) as indicated by transformation frequencies, the S. gordonii transcriptome was analyzed at various time points after CSP exposure. Microarray analysis identified 35 candidate early genes and 127 candidate late genes that were up-regulated at 5 and 15 min, respectively; these genes were often grouped in clusters. Results supported published findings on S. gordonii competence, showing up-regulation of 12 of 16 genes that have been reported to affect transformation frequencies in this species. Comparison of CSP-induced S. gordonii transcriptomes to results published for Streptococcus pneumoniae strains identified both conserved and species-specific genes. Putative intergenic regulatory sites, such as the conserved combox sequence thought to be a binding site for competence sigma factor, were found preceding S. gordonii late responsive genes. In contrast, S. gordonii early CSP-responsive genes were not preceded by the direct repeats found in S. pneumoniae. These studies provide the first insights into a genome-wide transcriptional response of an oral commensal organism. They offer an extensive analysis of transcriptional changes that accompany competence in S. gordonii and form a basis for future intra- and interspecies comparative analyses of this ecologically important phenotype.