Biochimica et biophysica acta

Characterization of the Vibrio cholerae extracellular matrix: a top-down solid-state NMR approach.

PMID 24911407


Bacterial biofilms are communities of bacterial cells surrounded by a self-secreted extracellular matrix. Biofilm formation by Vibrio cholerae, the human pathogen responsible for cholera, contributes to its environmental survival and infectivity. Important genetic and molecular requirements have been identified for V. cholerae biofilm formation, yet a compositional accounting of these parts in the intact biofilm or extracellular matrix has not been described. As insoluble and non-crystalline assemblies, determinations of biofilm composition pose a challenge to conventional biochemical and biophysical analyses. The V. cholerae extracellular matrix composition is particularly complex with several proteins, complex polysaccharides, and other biomolecules having been identified as matrix parts. We developed a new top-down solid-state NMR approach to spectroscopically assign and quantify the carbon pools of the intact V. cholerae extracellular matrix using ¹³C CPMAS and ¹³C{(¹⁵N}, ¹⁵N{³¹P}, and ¹³C{³¹P}REDOR. General sugar, lipid, and amino acid pools were first profiled and then further annotated and quantified as specific carbon types, including carbonyls, amides, glycyl carbons, and anomerics. In addition, ¹⁵N profiling revealed a large amine pool relative to amide contributions, reflecting the prevalence of molecular modifications with free amine groups. Our top-down approach could be implemented immediately to examine the extracellular matrix from mutant strains that might alter polysaccharide production or lipid release beyond the cell surface; or to monitor changes that may accompany environmental variations and stressors such as altered nutrient composition, oxidative stress or antibiotics. More generally, our analysis has demonstrated that solid-state NMR is a valuable tool to characterize complex biofilm systems.