Journal of bacteriology

Bistable expression of CsgD in biofilm development of Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium.

PMID 19897646


Bacterial persistence in the environment and in the infected host is often aided by the formation of exopolymer-enclosed communities known as biofilms. Heterogeneous gene expression takes place in microcompartments formed within the complex biofilm structure. This study describes cell differentiation within an isogenic bacterial cell population based on the example of biofilm formation by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. We analyzed the expression of the major biofilm regulator CsgD at the single-cell level with a chromosomal CsgD-green fluorescent protein (GFP) translational fusion. In individual cells, CsgD-GFP expression is mostly found in the cytoplasm. Quantitative expression analysis and results from three different models of S. Typhimurium biofilms demonstrated that CsgD is expressed in a bistable manner during biofilm development. CsgD expression is, however, monomodal when CsgD is expressed in larger amounts due to a promoter mutation or elevated levels of the secondary signaling molecule c-di-GMP. High levels of CsgD-GFP are associated with cellular aggregation in all three biofilm models. Furthermore, the subpopulation of cells expressing large amounts of CsgD is engaged in cellulose production during red, dry, and rough (rdar) morphotype development and in microcolony formation under conditions of continuous flow. Consequently, bistability at the level of CsgD expression leads to a corresponding pattern of task distribution in S. Typhimurium biofilms.

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