Enterococcus faecalis rnjB is required for pilin gene expression and biofilm formation.

Publication Date



J Bacteriol. 2010 October; 192(20): 5489–5498.


Pili in Gram-positive bacteria play a major role in the colonization of host tissue and in the development of biofilms. They are promising candidates for vaccines or drug targets since they are highly immunogenic and share common structural and functional features among various Gram-positive pathogens. Numerous publications have helped build a detailed understanding of pilus surface assembly, yet regulation of pilin gene expression has not been well defined. Utilizing a monoclonal antibody developed against the Enterococcus faecalis major pilus protein EbpC, we identified mutants from a transposon (Tn) insertion library which lack surface-exposed Ebp pili. In addition to insertions in the ebp regulon, an insertion in ef1184 (dapA) significantly reduced levels of EbpC. Analysis of in-frame dapA deletion mutants and mutants with the downstream gene rnjB deleted further demonstrated that rnjB was responsible for the deficiency of EbpC. Sequence analysis revealed that rnjB encodes a putative RNase J2. Subsequent quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and Northern blotting demonstrated that the ebpABC mRNA transcript level was significantly decreased in the rnjB deletion mutant. In addition, using a reporter gene assay, we confirmed that rnjB affects the expression of the ebpABC operon. Functionally, the rnjB deletion mutant was attenuated in its ability to produce biofilm, similar to that of an ebpABC deletion mutant which lacks Ebp pili. Together, these results demonstrate the involvement of rnjB in E. faecalis pilin gene expression and provide insight into a novel mechanism of regulation of pilus production in Gram-positive pathogens.


Antibodies, Monoclonal, Biofilms, Enterococcus faecalis, Fimbriae Proteins, Fimbriae, Bacterial, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Mutagenesis, Insertional, Phenotype, Phylogeny, Virulence