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Naked Bacterium: Emerging Properties of a Surfome-Streamlined Pseudomonas putida Strain

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journal contribution
posted on 27.08.2020, 17:36 by Esteban Martínez-García, Sofía Fraile, David Rodríguez Espeso, Davide Vecchietti, Giovanni Bertoni, Víctor de Lorenzo
Environmental bacteria are most often endowed with native surface-attachment programs that frequently conflict with efforts to engineer biofilms and synthetic communities with given tridimensional architectures. In this work, we report the editing of the genome of Pseudomonas putida KT2440 for stripping the cells of most outer-facing structures of the bacterial envelope that mediate motion, binding to surfaces, and biofilm formation. To this end, 23 segments of the P. putida chromosome encoding a suite of such functions were deleted, resulting in the surface-naked strain EM371, the physical properties of which changed dramatically in respect to the wild type counterpart. As a consequence, surface-edited P. putida cells were unable to form biofilms on solid supports and, because of the swimming deficiency and other alterations, showed a much faster sedimentation in liquid media. Surface-naked bacteria were then used as carriers of interacting partners (e.g., Jun–Fos domains) ectopically expressed by means of an autotransporter display system on the now easily accessible cell envelope. Abstraction of individual bacteria as adhesin-coated spherocylinders enabled rigorous quantitative description of the multicell interplay brought about by thereby engineered physical interactions. The model was then applied to parametrize the data extracted from automated analysis of confocal microscopy images of the experimentally assembled bacterial flocks for analyzing their structure and distribution. The resulting data not only corroborated the value of P. putida EM371 over the parental strain as a platform for display artificial adhesins but also provided a strategy for rational engineering of catalytic communities.

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