Journal of bacteriology

Streptococcus mutans NADH oxidase lies at the intersection of overlapping regulons controlled by oxygen and NAD+ levels.

PMID 24682329


NADH oxidase (Nox, encoded by nox) is a flavin-containing enzyme used by the oral pathogen Streptococcus mutans to reduce diatomic oxygen to water while oxidizing NADH to NAD(+). The critical nature of Nox is 2-fold: it serves to regenerate NAD(+), a carbon cycle metabolite, and to reduce intracellular oxygen, preventing formation of destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS). As oxygen and NAD(+) have been shown to modulate the activity of the global transcription factors Spx and Rex, respectively, Nox is potentially poised at a critical junction of two stress regulons. In this study, microarray data showed that either addition of oxygen or loss of nox resulted in altered expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and transport and the upregulation of genes encoding ROS-metabolizing enzymes. Loss of nox also resulted in upregulation of several genes encoding transcription factors and signaling molecules, including the redox-sensing regulator gene rex. Characterization of the nox promoter revealed that nox was regulated by oxygen, through SpxA, and by Rex. These data suggest a regulatory loop in which the roles of nox in reduction of oxygen and regeneration of NAD(+) affect the activity levels of Spx and Rex, respectively, and their regulons, which control several genes, including nox, crucial to growth of S. mutans under conditions of oxidative stress.