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Understanding the matrix: The role of extracellular DNA in oral biofilms

Lookup NU author(s): Hannah Serrage, Dr Nadia Rostami, Professor Nicholas JakubovicsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Dental plaque is the key etiological agent in caries formation and the development of the prevalent chronic oral inflammatory disease, periodontitis. The dental plaque biofilm comprises a diverse range of microbial species encased within a rich extracellular matrix, of which extracellular DNA (eDNA) has been identified as an important component. The molecular mechanisms of eDNA release and the structure of eDNA have yet to be fully characterized. Nonetheless, key functions that have been proposed for eDNA include maintaining biofilm structural integrity, initiating adhesion to dental surfaces, acting as a nutrient source, and facilitating horizontal gene transfer. Thus, eDNA is a potential therapeutic target for the management of oral disease‚Äďassociated biofilm. This review aims to summarize advances in the understanding of the mechanisms of eDNA release from oral microorganisms and in the methods of eDNA detection and quantification within oral biofilms.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Serrage HJ, Jepson MA, Rostami N, Jakubovics NS, Nobbs A

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Oral Health

Year: 2021

Volume: 2

Pages: 640129

Online publication date: 22/03/2021

Acceptance date: 09/02/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2673-4842


DOI: 10.3389/froh.2021.640129