Bacterial Model Membranes Reshape Fibrillation of a Functional Amyloid Protein

Ravit Malishev, Razan Abbasi, Raz Jelinek*, Liraz Chai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Biofilms are aggregates of cells that form surface-associated communities. The cells in biofilms are interconnected with an extracellular matrix, a network that is made mostly of polysaccharides, proteins, and sometimes nucleic acids. Some extracellular matrix proteins form fibers, termed functional amyloid or amyloid-like, to differentiate their constructive function from disease-related amyloid fibers. Recent functional amyloid assembly studies have neglected their interaction with membranes, despite their native formation in a cellular environment. Here, we use TasA, a major matrix protein in biofilms of the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis, as a model functional amyloid protein and ask whether the bacterial functional amyloid interacts with membranes. Using biochemical, spectroscopic, and microscopic tools, we show that TasA interacts distinctively with bacterial model membranes and that this interaction mutually influences the morphology and structure of the protein and the membranes. At the protein level, fibers of similar structure and morphology are formed in the absence of membranes and in the presence of eukaryotic model membranes. However, in the presence of bacterial model membranes, TasA forms disordered aggregates with a different β sheet signature. At the membrane level, fluorescence microscopy and anisotropy measurements indicate that bacterial membranes deform more considerably than eukaryotic membranes upon interaction with TasA. Our findings suggest that TasA penetrates bacterial more than eukaryotic model membranes and that this leads to membrane disruption and to reshaping the TasA fiber formation pathway. Considering the important role of TasA in providing integrity to biofilms, our study may direct the design of antibiofilm drugs to the protein-membrane interface.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5230-5238
Number of pages9
Issue number35
StatePublished - 4 Sep 2018

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© 2018 American Chemical Society.


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