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Protein identified that's key to bacterial biofilm formation – a target for their elimination

01 July 2020

Grip and Go

Most bacteria are free spirits, drifting from one place to another. But eventually some settle together to wrap tightly around a surface. These persistent slime layers, biofilms, can be bad news in the body or on medical equipment. To study how they grip and grow, researchers examined the protein TasA (red in the video of growing cells), which forms part of the extracellular matrix – the structural glue that holds the film in place. They found that TasA can also act as a signal to prompt a subset of film’s cells to kick into action, driving expansion (boosted cells in yellow). Invasive biofilms in the body being able to expand towards other tissues, rather than be a static carpet as previously thought, is a worrying proposition. TasA is both the adhesive glue and fuel to keep going, so may be key to reversing progress and keeping bacteria at bay.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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