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Antagonistic interaction between two key endodontic pathogens Enterococcus faecalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum

  • Xiang, Doudou
  • Dong, Pu-Ting
  • Cen, Lujia
  • Bor, Batbileg
  • Lux, Renate
  • Shi, Wenyuan
  • Yu, Qing
  • He, Xuesong
  • Wu, Tingxi
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2023
eScholarship - University of California
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BackgroundEndodontic infections are known to be caused by pathogenic bacteria. Numerous previous studies found that both Fusobacterium nucleatum and Enterococcus faecalis are associated with endodontic infections, with Fusobacterium nucleatum more abundant in primary infection while Enterococcus faecalis more abundant in secondary infection. Little is known about the potential interactions between different endodontic pathogens.ObjectiveThis study aims to investigate the potential interaction between F. nucleatum and E. faecalis via phenotypical and genetic approaches.MethodsPhysical and physiological interactions of F. nucleatum and E. faecalis under both planktonic and biofilm conditions were measured with co-aggregation and competition assays. The mechanisms behind these interactions were revealed with genetic screening and biochemical measurements.ResultsE. faecalis was found to physically bind to F. nucleatum under both in vitro planktonic and biofilm conditions, and this interaction requires F. nucleatum fap2, a galactose-inhibitable adhesin-encoding gene. Under our experimental conditions, E. faecalis exhibits a strong killing ability against F. nucleatum by generating an acidic micro-environment and producing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Finally, the binding and killing capacities of E. faecalis were found to be necessary to invade and dominate a pre-established in vitro F. nucleatum biofilm.ConclusionsThis study reveals multifaceted mechanisms underlying the physical binding and antagonistic interaction between F. nucleatum and E. faecalis, which could play a potential role in the shift of microbial composition in primary and secondary endodontic infections.

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