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The Enterococcus faecium enterococcal biofilm regulator, EbrB, regulates the esp operon and is implicated in biofilm formation and intestinal colonization



The Enterococcus faecium enterococcal biofilm regulator, EbrB, regulates the esp operon and is implicated in biofilm formation and intestinal colonization



Plos one 8(5): E65224



Nowadays, Enterococcus faecium is one of the leading nosocomial pathogens worldwide. Strains causing clinical infections or hospital outbreaks are enriched in the enterococcal surface protein (Esp) encoding ICEEfm1 mobile genetic element. Previous studies showed that Esp is involved in biofilm formation, endocarditis and urinary tract infections. In this study, we characterized the role of the putative AraC type of regulator (locus tag EfmE1162_2351), which we renamed ebrB and which is, based on the currently available whole genome sequences, always located upstream of the esp gene, and studied its role in Esp surface exposure during growth. A markerless deletion mutant of ebrB resulted in reduced esp expression and complete abolishment of Esp surface exposure, while Esp cell-surface exposure was restored when this mutant was complemented with an intact copy of ebrB. This demonstrates a role for EbrB in esp expression. However, during growth, ebrB expression levels did not change over time, while an increase in esp expression at both RNA and protein level was observed during mid-log and late-log phase. These results indicate the existence of a secondary regulation system for esp, which might be an unknown quorum sensing system as the enhanced esp expression seems to be cell density dependent. Furthermore, we determined that esp is part of an operon of at least 3 genes putatively involved in biofilm formation. A semi-static biofilm model revealed reduced biofilm formation for the EbrB deficient mutant, while dynamics of biofilm formation using a flow cell system revealed delayed biofilm formation in the ebrB mutant. In a mouse intestinal colonization model the ebrB mutant was less able to colonize the gut compared to wild-type strain, especially in the small intestine. These data indicate that EbrB positively regulates the esp operon and is implicated in biofilm formation and intestinal colonization.

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Accession: 056182198

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PMID: 23741484

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065224


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