C-di-GMP as a novel target for biofilm detection

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Ke Yan Wen, Kirsten Jensen, Paul Freemont

Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Microbial biofilms are cell communities that coordinate behaviour and gene expression at the population level. Due to the production of a defensive extracellular matrix, biofilms are extremely difficult to disperse with antimicrobial agents and subsequently pose a major challenge in healthcare and industrial settings. Rapid detection of this bacterial phenotype could assist greatly in treating and eradicating biofilm colonisations. An in vitro biosensor has been developed which targets biofilm signalling molecules by expressing a detection module within a cell-free transcription and translation context. Our current efforts aim to detect the early-stage biofilm signalling molecule cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) using this system. The Vibrio cholerae transcription factor VpsT can upregulate the expression of a reporter module in the presence of c-di-GMP. Previous work focused on the detection of the quorum-sensing molecules acyl homoserine lactones (AHL), which also play a key role in pathogenic biofilms. By expanding the number of detection targets for biofilm formation, this approach shows the adaptability of the in vitro biosensor platform. Furthermore, it can potentially increase the specificity of detection to differentiate between stages of biofilm formation and virulence.