Lateral interactions govern self-assembly of the bacterial biofilm matrix protein BslA

Sofia Arnaouteli, Natalie C. Bamford, Giovanni B. Brandani, Ryan J. Morris, Marieke Schor, Jamie T. Carrington, Laura Hobley, Daan M F van Aalten*, Nicola R. Stanley-Wall*, Cait E. MacPhee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis is a model organism to investigate the formation of biofilms, the predominant form of microbial life. The secreted protein BslA self- assembles at the surface of the biofilm to give the B. subtilis biofilm its characteristic hydrophobicity. To understand the mechanism of BslA self- assembly at interfaces, here we built a molecular model based on the previous BslA crystal structure and the crystal structure of the BslA paralogue YweA that we determined. Our analysis revealed two conserved protein–protein interaction interfaces supporting BslA self- assembly into an infinite 2- dimensional lattice that fits previously determined transmission microscopy images. Molecular dynamics simulations and in vitro protein assays further support our model of BslA elastic film formation, while mutagenesis experiments highlight the importance of the identified interactions for biofilm structure. Based on this knowledge, YweA was engineered to form more stable elastic films and rescue biofilm structure in bslA deficient strains. These findings shed light on protein film assembly and will inform the development of BslA technologies which range from surface coatings to emulsions in fast- moving consumer goods.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2312022120
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023


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