The LiaSR two-component signal transduction system regulates cellular responses to several environmental stresses, including those that induce cell envelope damages. Downstream regulons of the LiaSR system have been implicated in tolerance to acid, antibiotics and detergents. In the dental pathogen Streptococcus mutans, the LiaSR system is necessary for tolerance against acid, antibiotics, and cell wall damaging stresses during growth in the oral cavity. To understand the molecular mechanisms by which LiaSR regulates gene expression, we created a mutant LiaR in which the conserved aspartic acid residue (the phosphorylation site), was changed to alanine residue (D58A). As expected, the LiaR-D58A variant was unable to acquire the phosphate group and bind to target promoters. We also noted that the predicted LiaR-binding motif upstream of the lia operon does not appear to be well conserved. Consistent with this observation, we found that LiaR was unable to bind to the promoter region of lia; however, we showed that LiaR was able to bind to the promoters of SMU.753, SMU.2084 and SMU.1727. Based on sequence analysis and DNA binding studies we proposed a new 25-bp conserved motif essential for LiaR binding. Introducing alterations at fully conserved positions in the 25-bp motif affected LiaR binding, and the binding was dependent on the combination of positions that were altered. By scanning the S. mutans genome for the occurrence of the newly defined LiaR binding motif, we identified the promoter of hrcA (encoding a key regulator of the heat shock response) that contains a LiaR binding motif, and we showed that hrcA is negatively regulated by the LiaSR system. Taken together our results suggest a putative role of the LiaSR system in heat shock responses of S. mutans. © 2015 Shankar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.