Bacterial colonization of animal epithelial tissue is a dynamic process that relies on precise molecular communication. Colonization of Euprymna scolopes bobtail squid by Vibrio fischeri bacteria requires bacterial aggregation in host mucus as the symbiont transitions from a planktonic lifestyle in seawater to a biofilm-associated state in the host. We have identified a gene, binK (biofilm inhibitor kinase; VF_A0360), which encodes an orphan hybrid histidine kinase that negatively regulates the V. fischeri symbiotic biofilm (Syp) in vivo and in vitro. We identified binK mutants as exhibiting a colonization advantage in a global genetic screen, a phenotype that we confirmed in controlled competition experiments. Bacterial biofilm aggregates in the host are larger in strains lacking BinK, whereas overexpression of BinK suppresses biofilm formation and squid colonization. Signaling through BinK is required for temperature modulation of biofilm formation at 28°C. Furthermore, we present evidence that BinK acts upstream of SypG, the σ54-dependent transcriptional regulator of the syp biofilm locus. The BinK effects are dependent on intact signaling in the RscS-Syp biofilm pathway. Therefore, we propose that BinK antagonizes the signal from RscS and serves as an integral component in V. fischeri biofilm regulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology