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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Sep;41(5):983-97.

Roles for Fis and YafK in biofilm formation by enteroaggregative Escherichia coli.

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Center for Vaccine Development, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 685 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) forms thick biofilms on the intestinal mucosa. Here, we show that most EAEC strains form a biofilm on glass or plastic surfaces when grown in cell culture medium with high sugar and osmolarity. Biofilm-forming ability in two prototype EAEC strains required aggregative adherence fimbriae (AAF), although many other EAEC strains that do not express AAF also developed biofilms under these conditions. Ten thousand transposon mutants of EAEC strain 042 were isolated, and 100 were found to be deficient in biofilm formation. Of these, 93 were either deficient in in vitro growth or mapped to genes known to be required for AAF/II expression. Of the seven remaining insertions, five mapped to one of two unsuspected loci. Two insertions involved the E. coli chromosomal fis gene, a DNA-binding protein that is involved in growth phase-dependent regulation. Using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we determined that the effect of fis was at the level of transcription of the AAF/II activator aggR. Biofilm formation also required the product of the yafK gene, which is predicted to encode a secreted 28 kDa protein. The yafK product is required for transcription of AAF/II-encoding genes. Our data do not suggest a role for type 1 fimbriae or motility in biofilm formation. EAEC appears to form a novel biofilm, which may be mediated solely by AAF and may reflect its interactions with the intestinal mucosa.

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