Indexed on: 12 Jul '14Published on: 12 Jul '14Published in: Microbiology (Reading, England)
During the colonization of surfaces, Escherichia coli bacteria often encounter DNA-damaging agents and these agents can induce several defence mechanisms. Base excision repair (BER) is dedicated to the repair of oxidative DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by chemical and physical agents or by metabolism. In this work, we have evaluated whether the interaction with an abiotic surface by mutants derived from E. coli K-12 deficient in some enzymes that are part of BER causes DNA damage and associated filamentation. Moreover, we studied the role of endonuclease V (nfi gene; 1506 mutant strain) in biofilm formation. Endonuclease V is an enzyme that is involved in DNA repair of nitrosative lesions. We verified that endonuclease V is involved in biofilm formation. Our results showed more filamentation in the xthA mutant (BW9091) and triple xthA nfo nth mutant (BW535) than in the wild-type strain (AB1157). By contrast, the mutant nfi did not present filamentation in biofilm, although its wild-type strain (1466) showed rare filaments in biofilm. The filamentation of bacterial cells attaching to a surface was a consequence of SOS induction measured by the SOS chromotest. However, biofilm formation depended on the ability of the bacteria to induce the SOS response since the mutant lexA Ind(-) did not induce the SOS response and did not form any biofilm. Oxygen tension was an important factor for the interaction of the BER mutants, since these mutants exhibited decreased quantitative adherence under anaerobic conditions. However, our results showed that the presence or absence of oxygen did not affect the viability of BW9091 and BW535 strains. The nfi mutant and its wild-type did not exhibit decreased biofilm formation under anaerobic conditions. Scanning electron microscopy was also performed on the E. coli K-12 strains that had adhered to the glass, and we observed the presence of a structure similar to an extracellular matrix that depended on the oxygen tension. In conclusion, it was proven that bacterial interaction with abiotic surfaces can lead to SOS induction and associated filamentation. Moreover, we verified that endonuclease V is involved in biofilm formation.