The majority of the matrix protein TapA is dispensable for Bacillus subtilis colony biofilm architecture

Chris Earl, Sofia Arnaouteli, Natalie Bamford, Michael Porter, Tetyana Sukhodub, Cait E. MacPhee (Lead / Corresponding author), Nicola Stanley-Wall (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
74 Downloads (Pure)


Biofilm formation is a co-operative behaviour, where microbial cells become embedded in an extracellular matrix. This biomolecular matrix helps manifest the beneficial or detrimental outcome mediated by the collective of cells. Bacillus subtilis is an important bacterium for understanding the principles of biofilm formation. The protein components of the B. subtilis matrix include the secreted proteins BslA, which forms a hydrophobic coat over the biofilm, and TasA, which forms protease-resistant fibres needed for structuring. TapA is a secreted protein also needed for biofilm formation and helps in vivo TasA-fibre formation but is dispensable for in vitro TasA-fibre assembly. We show that TapA is subjected to proteolytic cleavage in the colony biofilm and that only the first 57 amino acids of the 253-amino acid protein are required for colony biofilm architecture. Through the construction of a strain which lacks all eight extracellular proteases, we show that proteolytic cleavage by these enzymes is not a prerequisite for TapA function. It remains unknown why TapA is synthesised at 253 amino acids when the first 57 are sufficient for colony biofilm structuring; the findings do not exclude the core conserved region of TapA having a second role beyond structuring the B. subtilis colony biofilm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-933
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number6
Early online date3 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Bacillus subtilis
  • biofilm matrix
  • TapA
  • TasA
  • extracellular proteases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology


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