Extracellular DNA Facilitates the Formation of Functional Amyloids in Staphylococcus Aureus Biofilms

Mol Microbiol. 2016 Jan;99(1):123-34. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13219. Epub 2015 Oct 14.


Persistent staphylococcal infections often involve surface-associated communities called biofilms. Staphylococcus aureus biofilm development is mediated by the co-ordinated production of the biofilm matrix, which can be composed of polysaccharides, extracellular DNA (eDNA) and proteins including amyloid fibers. The nature of the interactions between matrix components, and how these interactions contribute to the formation of matrix, remain unclear. Here we show that the presence of eDNA in S. aureus biofilms promotes the formation of amyloid fibers. Conditions or mutants that do not generate eDNA result in lack of amyloids during biofilm growth despite the amyloidogeneic subunits, phenol soluble modulin peptides, being produced. In vitro studies revealed that the presence of DNA promotes amyloid formation by PSM peptides. Thus, this work exposes a previously unacknowledged interaction between biofilm matrix components that furthers our understanding of functional amyloid formation and S. aureus biofilm biology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology*


  • Amyloid
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • staphylococcal delta toxin