Researchers uncover molecular tricks bacteria use to fight fluoride

Yale researchers have uncovered the molecular tricks used by bacteria to fight the effects of fluoride, which is commonly used in toothpaste and mouthwash to combat tooth decay.

In the Dec. 22 online issue of the journal Science Express, the researchers report that sections of RNA messages called riboswitches — which control the expression of genes — detect the build-up of fluoride and activate the defenses of bacteria, including those that contribute to tooth decay.

"These riboswitches are detectors made specifically to see fluoride," said Ronald Breaker, the Henry Ford II professor and chair of the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and senior author of the study.

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