Mannitol and the mannitol-specific enzyme IIB subunit activate Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Aug;79(15):4675-83. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01184-13. Epub 2013 May 31.


Vibrio cholerae is a halophilic, Gram-negative rod found in marine environments. Strains that produce cholera toxin cause the diarrheal disease cholera. V. cholerae use a highly conserved, multicomponent signal transduction cascade known as the phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system (PTS) to regulate carbohydrate uptake and biofilm formation. Regulation of biofilm formation by the PTS is complex, involving many different regulatory pathways that incorporate distinct PTS components. The PTS consists of the general components enzyme I (EI) and histidine protein (HPr) and carbohydrate-specific enzymes II. Mannitol transport by V. cholerae requires the mannitol-specific EII (EII(Mtl)), which is expressed only in the presence of mannitol. Here we show that mannitol activates V. cholerae biofilm formation and transcription of the vps biofilm matrix exopolysaccharide synthesis genes. This regulation is dependent on mannitol transport. However, we show that, in the absence of mannitol, ectopic expression of the B subunit of EII(Mtl) is sufficient to activate biofilm accumulation. Mannitol, a common compatible solute and osmoprotectant of marine organisms, is a main photosynthetic product of many algae and is secreted by algal mats. We propose that the ability of V. cholerae to respond to environmental mannitol by forming a biofilm may play an important role in habitat selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biofilms*
  • Biological Transport
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Mannitol / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate / metabolism
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vibrio cholerae / enzymology
  • Vibrio cholerae / genetics
  • Vibrio cholerae / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Mannitol
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate
  • Phosphotransferases

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE42674