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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nadia Rostami,
Professor Nicholas JakubovicsORCiD
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Copyright © 2022 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.Extracellular DNA (eDNA) is an important component of biofilm matrix that serves to maintain biofilm structural integrity, promotes genetic exchange within the biofilm, and provides protection against antimicrobial compounds. Advances in microscopy techniques have provided evidence of the cobweb- or lattice-like structures of eDNA within biofilms from a range of environmental niches. However, methods to reliably assess the abundance and architecture of eDNA remain lacking. This study aimed to address this gap by development of a novel, high-throughput image acquisition and analysis platform for assessment of eDNA networks in situ within biofilms. Utilizing Streptococcus gordonii as the model, the capacity for this imaging system to reliably detect eDNA networks and monitor changes in abundance and architecture (e.g., strand length and branch number) was verified. Evidence was provided of a synergy between glucans and eDNA matrices, while it was revealed that surface-bound nuclease SsnA could modify these eDNA structures under conditions permissive for enzymatic activity. Moreover, cross talk between the competence and hexaheptapeptide permease systems was shown to regulate eDNA release by S. gordonii. This novel imaging system can be applied across the wider field of biofilm research, with potential to significantly advance interrogation of the mechanisms by which the eDNA network architecture develops, how it can influence biofilm properties, and how it may be targeted for therapeutic benefit. IMPORTANCE Extracellular DNA (eDNA) is critical for maintaining the structural integrity of many microbial biofilms, making it an attractive target for the management of biofilms. However, our knowledge and targeting of eDNA are currently hindered by a lack of tools for the quantitative assessment of eDNA networks within biofilms. Here, we demonstrate use of a novel image acquisition and analysis platform with the capacity to reliably monitor the abundance and architecture of eDNA networks. Application of this tool to Streptococcus gordonii biofilms has provided new insights into how eDNA networks are stabilized within the biofilm and the pathways that can regulate eDNA release. This highlights how exploitation of this novel imaging system across the wider field of biofilm research has potential to significantly advance interrogation of the mechanisms by which the eDNA network architecture develops, how it can influence biofilm properties, and how it may be targeted for therapeutic benefit.
Author(s): Serrage HJ, FitzGibbon L, Alibhai D, Cross S, Rostami N, Jack AA, Lawler CRE, Jakubovics NS, Jepson MA, Nobbs AH
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Print publication date: 12/07/2022
Online publication date: 13/06/2022
Acceptance date: 05/05/2022
ISSN (print): 0099-2240
ISSN (electronic): 1098-5336
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
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