Co-operative inhibition by fluoride and zinc of glucosyl transferase production and polysaccharide synthesis by mutans streptococci in suspension cultures and biofilms


  • Editor: Mark Schembri

Correspondence: Robert E. Marquis, Center for Oral Biology and Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642-8672, USA. Tel.: +585 275 1674; fax: +585 493 9573; e-mail:


Fluoride and zinc, alone or in combination at concentrations of 0.2 mM, inhibited production–secretion of glucosyltranferases by Streptococcus mutans UA159 growing in suspension cultures. Inhibition did not involve growth inhibition or starvation. Fluoride and zinc also inhibited glucan production, especially insoluble glucan, in fed-batch biofilms. Inhibition of biofilms appeared to be associated with starvation as indicated by markedly decreased ATP pools and iodophilic polysaccharide levels in biofilm cells. As insoluble glucans are important for virulence of mutans streptococci, the inhibitory actions of fluoride and zinc could significantly affect cariogenicity.