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Sci Rep


Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. smegmatis form drug-tolerant biofilms through dedicated genetic programs. In support of a stepwise process regulating biofilm production in mycobacteria, it was shown elsewhere that lsr2 participates in intercellular aggregation, while groEL1 was required for biofilm maturation in M. smegmatis. Here, by means of RNA-Seq, we monitored the early steps of biofilm production in M. bovis BCG, to distinguish intercellular aggregation from attachment to a surface. Genes encoding for the transcriptional regulators dosR and BCG0114 (Rv0081) were significantly regulated and responded differently to intercellular aggregation and surface attachment. Moreover, a M. tuberculosis H37Rv deletion mutant in the Rv3134c-dosS-dosR regulon, formed less biofilm than wild type M. tuberculosis, a phenotype reverted upon reintroduction of this operon into the mutant. Combining RT-qPCR with microbiological assays (colony and surface pellicle morphologies, biofilm quantification, Ziehl-Neelsen staining, growth curve and replication of planktonic cells), we found that BCG0642c affected biofilm production and replication of planktonic BCG, whereas ethR affected only phenotypes linked to planktonic cells despite its downregulation at the intercellular aggregation step. Our results provide evidence for a stage-dependent expression of genes that contribute to biofilm production in slow-growing mycobacteria.


Institute for Systems Biology