The role of sugars in bacterial adhesion

The role of sugars in bacterial adhesion

Bacteria display molecules on their outside to facilitate adhesion and interaction with surfaces. This is particularly important during the initial stages of infection and biofilm formation for pathogenic bacteria. This adhesive ability allows bacteria to move on surfaces, both living and non-living, and eventually adhere irreversibly to form biofilms.

The Bharat lab uses a commonly studied bacterium, Caulobacter crescentus, to investigate this adhesion process. There are two main methods of adhesion, via proteins or polysaccharides (sugars). The focus of this paper is polysaccharide-mediated adhesion, in which a specialized sugar called holdfast plays a key role. In this paper, Sulkowski et al use a range of structural biology techniques, including cryo-electron microscopy, to identify the proteins which anchor and display holdfast on the cell surface. By looking at the mechanism of positioning holdfast at the membrane and maintenance of its cellular position, the role of sugars in bacterial adhesion can be better understood.

Heather Jeffery

Sulkowski NI, Hardy GG, Brun YV, Bharat TAM

J. Bacteriol pii: JB.00112-19. doi: 10.1128/JB.00112-19. [Epub ahead of print]