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J Bacteriol. 2013 Apr;195(8):1697-705. doi: 10.1128/JB.02201-12. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

Functional analysis of the protein Veg, which stimulates biofilm formation in Bacillus subtilis.

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Graduate School of Information Science, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Ikoma, Nara, Japan.


Biofilm is a complex aggregate of cells that adhere to each other and produce an extracellular matrix. In Bacillus subtilis, an extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) and amyloid fiber (TasA), synthesized by the epsA-epsO and tapA-sipW-tasA operons, respectively, are the primary components of the extracellular matrix. In the current study, we investigated the functional role of the previously uncharacterized veg gene in B. subtilis. Overproduction of Veg, a small protein highly conserved among Gram-positive bacteria, stimulated biofilm formation via inducing transcription of the tapA-sipW-tasA operon. Moreover, overproduced Veg restored the impairment of biofilm formation in mutants carrying a deletion of of sinI, slrA, or slrR, encoding an antirepressor of SinR that acts as the master regulator of biofilm formation, while biofilm morphology in the absence of SinR was not affected by either additional veg deletion or overproduction, indicating that Veg negatively regulates SinR activity independently of the known antirepressors. Expression of sinR was not affected in Veg-overproducing cells, and amounts of SinR were similar in cells expressing different levels of Veg, strongly suggesting that Veg modulates the repressor activity of SinR. Interestingly, the results of in vivo pulldown assays of the SinR complex indicate that Veg inhibits the interactions between SinR and SlrR. Based on these findings, we propose that Veg or a Veg-induced protein acts as an antirepressor of SinR to regulate biofilm formation.

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