The protein tyrosine kinases EpsB and PtkA differentially affect biofilm formation in Bacillus subtilis

Jan Gerwig, Taryn B. Kiley, Katrin Gunka, Nicola Stanley-Wall, Jörg Stülke (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    37 Citations (Scopus)
    279 Downloads (Pure)


    The Gram-positive soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis is able to choose between motile and sessile lifestyles. The sessile way of life, also referred to as biofilm, depends on the formation of an extracellular polysaccharide matrix and some extracellular proteins. Moreover, a significant portion of cells in a biofilm forms spores. The first two genes of the 15-gene operon for extracellular polysaccharide synthesis, epsA and epsB, encode a putative transmembrane modulator protein and a putative protein tyrosine kinase, respectively, with similarity to the TkmA/PtkA modulator/kinase couple. Here we show that the putative kinase EpsB is required for the formation of structured biofilms. However, an epsB mutant is still able to form biofilms. As shown previously, a ptkA mutant is also partially defective in biofilm formation, but this defect is related to spore formation in the biofilm. The absence of both kinases resulted in a complete loss of biofilm formation. Thus, EpsB and PtkA fulfill complementary functions in biofilm formation. The activity of bacterial protein tyrosine kinases depends on their interaction with modulator proteins. Our results demonstrate the specific interaction between the putative kinase EpsB and its modulator protein EpsA and suggest that EpsB activity is stimulated by its modulator EpsA.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)682-691
    Number of pages10
    Issue number4
    Early online date3 Feb 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2014


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