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Mol Microbiol. 2011 Nov;82(4):1015-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07867.x. Epub 2011 Oct 27.

Extracellular nucleases and extracellular DNA play important roles in Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation.

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Institut fuer Molekulare Biowissenschaften, Karl-Franzens-Universitaet Graz, Humboldtstrasse 50, 8010 Graz, Austria.


Biofilms are a preferred mode of survival for many microorganisms including Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of the severe secretory diarrhoeal disease cholera. The ability of the facultative human pathogen V. cholerae to form biofilms is a key factor for persistence in aquatic ecosystems and biofilms act as a source for new outbreaks. Thus, a better understanding of biofilm formation and transmission of V. cholerae is an important target to control the disease. So far the Vibrio exopolysaccharide was the only known constituent of the biofilm matrix. In this study we identify and characterize extracellular DNA as a component of the Vibrio biofilm matrix. Furthermore, we show that extracellular DNA is modulated and controlled by the two extracellular nucleases Dns and Xds. Our results indicate that extracellular DNA and the extracellular nucleases are involved in diverse processes including the development of a typical biofilm architecture, nutrient acquisition, detachment from biofilms and the colonization fitness of biofilm clumps after ingestion by the host. This study provides new insights into biofilm development and transmission of biofilm-derived V. cholerae.

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