Chapter 18 : Aggregation and Dispersal on Mucosal Surfaces

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This chapter considers two additional facets of adherence: (i) that in addition to adhering to a surface, bacteria often adhere to each other; and (ii) that colonization is sometimes promoted by relinquishing adherence. It focuses on bacterial aggregation. Bacteria adhering to mucosal surfaces commonly exhibit interbacterial aggregation or agglutination, perhaps with relatively few points of anchorage to the substratum. On the mucosa, interbacterial aggregation presumably plays the same biophysical role as it does on abiotic substrata, although data to this effect are few. Recent studies demonstrated that aggregation mediated by antigen 43 (Ag43) protects bacteria from HO-dependent killing. The study of aggregation and biofilm formation by staphylococcal species continues to represent the paradigm for bacterial infections. Bacterial aggregation and microcolony formation are considered to be an initial stage of biofilm formation. Biofilms of represent bacteria embedded in an alginate polysaccharide matrix. Instead of a shortening and thickening of the fimbriae as seen with enteropathogenic (EPEC), meningococci (MC) shed their fimbriae completely and initiate a complex signal transduction cascade within the cell. Dispersin mutants are deficient in colonization of the streptomycin-treated mouse model, suggesting that enteroaggregative (EAEC) mutants exhibiting collapsed fimbriae and hyperaggretation are not able to establish colonization of the intestine. Although each bacterium interacting with a mucosal surface must modify its colonization approach to fit its particular life-style and survival strategy, comparative biology continues to indentify new conserved general functions such as aggregation and its counterpoint, dispersal.

Citation: Nataro J, Jansen A. 2005. Aggregation and Dispersal on Mucosal Surfaces, p 253-263. In Nataro J, Cohen P, Mobley H, Weiser J (ed), Colonization of Mucosal Surfaces. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817619.ch18

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Figure 1

Dispersal of biofilm colonies of various oral bacteria growing attached to polystyrene petri dishes. The growing colonies release cells into the medium, and the released cells attach to the surface of the petri dish and form new colonies, enabling the biofilms to spread. The bacteria were stained with crystal violet. (A) (B) (C) (D) Bar, 0.5 μm in panel A and 2 μm in others. Panels A and C from reference 35. Courtesy of Dr. Jeffery Kaplan.

Citation: Nataro J, Jansen A. 2005. Aggregation and Dispersal on Mucosal Surfaces, p 253-263. In Nataro J, Cohen P, Mobley H, Weiser J (ed), Colonization of Mucosal Surfaces. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817619.ch18
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Figure 2

Mutation in the dispersin-encoding gene results in collapse of AAF/II fimbriae onto the surface of the bacterium, precluding interbacterial adherence at a distance. (A) 042. (B) 042

Citation: Nataro J, Jansen A. 2005. Aggregation and Dispersal on Mucosal Surfaces, p 253-263. In Nataro J, Cohen P, Mobley H, Weiser J (ed), Colonization of Mucosal Surfaces. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817619.ch18
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