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A Molecular Clutch Disables Flagella in the Bacillus subtilis Biofilm

Science  20 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5883, pp. 1636-1638
DOI: 10.1126/science.1157877

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Abstract

Biofilms are multicellular aggregates of sessile bacteria encased by an extracellular matrix and are important medically as a source of drug-resistant microbes. In Bacillus subtilis, we found that an operon required for biofilm matrix biosynthesis also encoded an inhibitor of motility, EpsE. EpsE arrested flagellar rotation in a manner similar to that of a clutch, by disengaging motor force-generating elements in cells embedded in the biofilm matrix. The clutch is a simple, rapid, and potentially reversible form of motility control.

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