Contribution of autolysin and Sortase a during Enterococcus faecalis DNA-dependent biofilm development

Infect Immun. 2009 Sep;77(9):3626-38. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00219-09. Epub 2009 Jun 15.


Biofilm production is a major attribute of Enterococcus faecalis clinical isolates. Although some factors, such as sortases, autolysin, and extracellular DNA (eDNA), have been associated with E. faecalis biofilm production, the mechanisms underlying the contributions of these factors to this process have not been completely elucidated yet. In this study we define important roles for the major E. faecalis autolysin (Atn), eDNA, and sortase A (SrtA) during the developmental stages of biofilm formation under static and hydrodynamic conditions. Deletion of srtA affects the attachment stage and results in a deficiency in biofilm production. Atn-deficient mutants are delayed in biofilm development due to defects in primary adherence and DNA release, which we show to be particularly important during the accumulative phase for maturation and architectural stability of biofilms. Confocal laser scanning and freeze-dry electron microscopy of biofilms grown under hydrodynamic conditions revealed that E. faecalis produces a DNase I-sensitive fibrous network, which is important for biofilm stability and is absent in atn-deficient mutant biofilms. This study establishes the stage-specific requirements for SrtA and Atn and demonstrates a role for Atn in the pathway leading to DNA release during biofilm development in E. faecalis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aminoacyltransferases / physiology*
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Biofilms*
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / physiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Deoxyribonuclease I / metabolism
  • Enterococcus faecalis / physiology*
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Aminoacyltransferases
  • sortase A
  • Deoxyribonuclease I
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase