DNA Builds and Strengthens the Extracellular Matrix in Myxococcus xanthus Biofilms by Interacting with Exopolysaccharides

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Abstract

One intriguing discovery in modern microbiology is the extensive presence of extracellular DNA (eDNA) within biofilms of various bacterial species. Although several biological functions have been suggested for eDNA, including involvement in biofilm formation, the detailed mechanism of eDNA integration into biofilm architecture is still poorly understood. In the biofilms formed by Myxococcus xanthus, a Gram-negative soil bacterium with complex morphogenesis and social behaviors, DNA was found within both extracted and native extracellular matrices (ECM). Further examination revealed that these eDNA molecules formed well organized structures that were similar in appearance to the organization of exopolysaccharides (EPS) in ECM. Biochemical and image analyses confirmed that eDNA bound to and colocalized with EPS within the ECM of starvation biofilms and fruiting bodies. In addition, ECM containing eDNA exhibited greater physical strength and biological stress resistance compared to DNase I treated ECM. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that DNA interacts with EPS and strengthens biofilm structures in M. xanthus. © 2012 Hu et al.

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Hu, W., Li, L., Sharma, S., Wang, J., McHardy, I., Lux, R., … Shi, W. (2012). DNA Builds and Strengthens the Extracellular Matrix in Myxococcus xanthus Biofilms by Interacting with Exopolysaccharides. PLoS ONE, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051905

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