The High Biofilm-Encoding Bee Locus: A Second Pilus Gene Cluster in Enterococcus faecalis?
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An Enterococcus faecalis mutant strain with a reduced ability for biofilm formation and primary attachment when compared to the high biofilm-forming wild-type strain was characterized by molecular biological and proteomic approaches. A point mutation in the srt-1 gene, which encodes a sortase-type enzyme and is part of the recently described bee (biofilm enhancer in Enterococcus) gene cluster, could be identified in the mutant strain. The Srt-1 deficiency resulted in a loss of the Bee-2 protein within a high molecular weight complex in cell surface protein extracts, as determined by mass spectrometry. These findings strongly suggest a specific linkage of Bee-2 to Bee-1 and Bee-3 within a complex by Srt-1. Furthermore, the identification of specific pilin motifs conserved in surface proteins of gram-positive bacteria indicated a possible involvement of the bee genes in the formation of pili structures, and may thus play a role in enhancing biofilm formation in Enterococcus faecalis.