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      The role of iron in Mycobacterium smegmatis biofilm formation: the exochelin siderophore is essential in limiting iron conditions for biofilm formation but not for planktonic growth

      , *

      Molecular Microbiology

      Blackwell Publishing Ltd

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          Many species of mycobacteria form structured biofilm communities at liquid–air interfaces and on solid surfaces. Full development of Mycobacterium smegmatis biofilms requires addition of supplemental iron above 1 μM ferrous sulphate, although addition of iron is not needed for planktonic growth. Microarray analysis of the M. smegmatis transcriptome shows that iron-responsive genes – especially those involved in siderophore synthesis and iron uptake – are strongly induced during biofilm formation reflecting a response to iron deprivation, even when 2 μM iron is present. The acquisition of iron under these conditions is specifically dependent on the exochelin synthesis and uptake pathways, and the strong defect of an iron–exochelin uptake mutant suggests a regulatory role of iron in the transition to biofilm growth. In contrast, although the expression of mycobactin and iron ABC transport operons is highly upregulated during biofilm formation, mutants in these systems form normal biofilms in low-iron (2 μM) conditions. A close correlation between iron availability and matrix-associated fatty acids implies a possible metabolic role in the late stages of biofilm maturation, in addition to the early regulatory role. M. smegmatis surface motility is similarly dependent on iron availability, requiring both supplemental iron and the exochelin pathway to acquire it.

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          Most cited references 55

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          Normalization for cDNA microarray data: a robust composite method addressing single and multiple slide systematic variation.

           Y. H. Yang (2002)
          There are many sources of systematic variation in cDNA microarray experiments which affect the measured gene expression levels (e.g. differences in labeling efficiency between the two fluorescent dyes). The term normalization refers to the process of removing such variation. A constant adjustment is often used to force the distribution of the intensity log ratios to have a median of zero for each slide. However, such global normalization approaches are not adequate in situations where dye biases can depend on spot overall intensity and/or spatial location within the array. This article proposes normalization methods that are based on robust local regression and account for intensity and spatial dependence in dye biases for different types of cDNA microarray experiments. The selection of appropriate controls for normalization is discussed and a novel set of controls (microarray sample pool, MSP) is introduced to aid in intensity-dependent normalization. Lastly, to allow for comparisons of expression levels across slides, a robust method based on maximum likelihood estimation is proposed to adjust for scale differences among slides.
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            Bacterial iron homeostasis.

            Iron is essential to virtually all organisms, but poses problems of toxicity and poor solubility. Bacteria have evolved various mechanisms to counter the problems imposed by their iron dependence, allowing them to achieve effective iron homeostasis under a range of iron regimes. Highly efficient iron acquisition systems are used to scavenge iron from the environment under iron-restricted conditions. In many cases, this involves the secretion and internalisation of extracellular ferric chelators called siderophores. Ferrous iron can also be directly imported by the G protein-like transporter, FeoB. For pathogens, host-iron complexes (transferrin, lactoferrin, haem, haemoglobin) are directly used as iron sources. Bacterial iron storage proteins (ferritin, bacterioferritin) provide intracellular iron reserves for use when external supplies are restricted, and iron detoxification proteins (Dps) are employed to protect the chromosome from iron-induced free radical damage. There is evidence that bacteria control their iron requirements in response to iron availability by down-regulating the expression of iron proteins during iron-restricted growth. And finally, the expression of the iron homeostatic machinery is subject to iron-dependent global control ensuring that iron acquisition, storage and consumption are geared to iron availability and that intracellular levels of free iron do not reach toxic levels.
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              Microbial biofilms: from ecology to molecular genetics.

              Biofilms are complex communities of microorganisms attached to surfaces or associated with interfaces. Despite the focus of modern microbiology research on pure culture, planktonic (free-swimming) bacteria, it is now widely recognized that most bacteria found in natural, clinical, and industrial settings persist in association with surfaces. Furthermore, these microbial communities are often composed of multiple species that interact with each other and their environment. The determination of biofilm architecture, particularly the spatial arrangement of microcolonies (clusters of cells) relative to one another, has profound implications for the function of these complex communities. Numerous new experimental approaches and methodologies have been developed in order to explore metabolic interactions, phylogenetic groupings, and competition among members of the biofilm. To complement this broad view of biofilm ecology, individual organisms have been studied using molecular genetics in order to identify the genes required for biofilm development and to dissect the regulatory pathways that control the plankton-to-biofilm transition. These molecular genetic studies have led to the emergence of the concept of biofilm formation as a novel system for the study of bacterial development. The recent explosion in the field of biofilm research has led to exciting progress in the development of new technologies for studying these communities, advanced our understanding of the ecological significance of surface-attached bacteria, and provided new insights into the molecular genetic basis of biofilm development.

                Author and article information

                Mol Microbiol
                Molecular Microbiology
                Blackwell Publishing Ltd
                October 2007
                : 66
                : 2
                : 468-483
                simpleDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
                Author notes
                *E-mail gfh@ ; Tel. (+1) 412 624 4350; Fax (+1) 412 624 4870.

                Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.

                © 2007 The Authors; Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
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