The primary mode of growth for many microorganisms is through the formation of biofilms: complex multispecies cellular aggregations encased in a defensive mesh of self-produced polymers (proteins, carbohydrate, DNA). The protein SslE is secreted by a broad-range of commensal and pathogenic Escherichia coli strains and can bind to the bacterial surface or diffuse away after export. It facilitates penetration of the host gut mucosa for efficient colonization and is essential for biofilm maturation of SslE-secreting bacteria. Using structural biology, molecular microbiology and mouse infection models, this project aims to understanding the fundamental role of SslE during E. coli biofilm growth.
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