Extracellular Electron Transfer in Enterococcus faecalis Biofilm Metabolism
Reference: bioRxiv (2017)

Enterococci are important human commensals and significant opportunistic pathogens associated with endocarditis, urinary tract infections, wound and surgical site infections, and medical device associated infections. These infections often become chronic upon the formation of biofilm. The biofilm matrix establishes properties that distinguish this state from free-living bacterial cells and increase tolerance to antimicrobial interventions. The metabolic versatility of the Enterococci is reflected in the diversity and complexity of environments and communities in which they thrive. Understanding metabolic factors governing colonization and persistence in different host niches can reveal factors influencing the transition from commensal to opportunistic pathogen. Here, we report a new form of iron-dependent metabolism for Enterococcus faecalis where, in the absence of heme, respiration components can be utilised for extracellular electron transfer (EET). Iron augments E. faecalis biofilm growth and generates alterations in biofilm matrix, cell spatial distribution, and biofilm matrix properties. We identify the genes involved in iron-augmented biofilm growth and show that it occurs by promoting EET to iron within biofilm.

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