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The biofilm-associated surface protein Esp of Enterococcus faecalis forms amyloid-like fibers

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Agustina Taglialegna, Leticia Matilla-Cuenca, Pedro Dorado-Morales, Susanna Navarro, Salvador Ventura, James A. Garnett, Iñigo Lasa, Jaione Valle

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Journalnpj Biofilms and Microbiomes
Issue number1
Published1 Dec 2020

King's Authors


Functional amyloids are considered as common building block structures of the biofilm matrix in different bacteria. In previous work, we have shown that the staphylococcal surface protein Bap, a member of the Biofilm-Associated Proteins (BAP) family, is processed and the fragments containing the N-terminal region become aggregation-prone and self-assemble into amyloid-like structures. Here, we report that Esp, a Bap-orthologous protein produced by Enterococcus faecalis, displays a similar amyloidogenic behavior. We demonstrate that at acidic pH the N-terminal region of Esp forms aggregates with an amyloid-like conformation, as evidenced by biophysical analysis and the binding of protein aggregates to amyloid-indicative dyes. Expression of a chimeric protein, with its Esp N-terminal domain anchored to the cell wall through the R domain of clumping factor A, showed that the Esp N-terminal region is sufficient to confer multicellular behavior through the formation of an extracellular amyloid-like material. These results suggest that the mechanism of amyloid-like aggregation to build the biofilm matrix might be widespread among BAP-like proteins. This amyloid-based mechanism may not only have strong relevance for bacteria lifestyle but could also contribute to the amyloid burden to which the human physiology is potentially exposed.

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