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Mutans Murder Machine

The oral microbiome comprises a variety of both commensal and detrimental microbes. Oral health requires a fine balance of these organisms, which can be upset by broad-spectrum antibiotics. Our experiments involved the use of the peptide based antibiotic actagardine, known to have activity against Streptococci. Homologs of actagardine were also incorporated into the designed gene cluster, in an effort to develop novel antimicrobial compounds. We sought to use synthetic biology tools to create a targeting system for an antibiotic to kill only Streptococcus mutans, the primary causative agent of dental cavities. A combinatorial approach applying phage display and heterologous expression of modified lantibiotics was applied to develop this targeted S. mutans killing machine.