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Making biofilms: what role for enzymes that act on biofilm signaling molecule?

Biofilms: whether it’s coating the opening of a geyser in Yellowstone Park or lining the surface of your shower curtain, the signaling molecule cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) essentially tells bacteria in these ecosystems when to get-up-and-go or when to settle down and get comfortable. By regulating this transition between motile and sessile states, c-di-GMP represents an important signal for biofilm formation, a process that many scientists would really like to control.

In a recent study in mBio, Merritt et al. identified diguanylate cyclases (DGC) they thought would be involved in controlling the concentration of this important signal molecule. Not so. While the DGCs they describe do have an impact on biofilm formation, they don’t seem to do it by changing the total level of c-di-GMP in the cell. The authors conclude that the effects of c-di-GMP must, in part, be localized subcellularly, making total cell concentrations immaterial.

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