Bacterial extracellular vesicles: modulation of biofilm formation and virulence

Microbial pathogens pose significant challenges to human health by causing persistent infections through the formation of biofilms and the production of virulence factors. In recent years, scientists have uncovered a fascinating aspect of bacterial biology involving tiny structures called bacterial extracellular vesicles (BEVs). These nanostructures play a crucial role in molecular transport and communication among bacteria, influencing biofilm formation, virulence, disease progression, and resistance to antimicrobial treatments.

BEVs are complex entities composed of various components, including lipids, nucleic acids, proteins, and signaling molecules. These vesicles contribute to the formation of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in biofilms by transporting essential biofilm components such as polysaccharides, proteins, and extracellular DNA. Moreover, BEVs have been found to carry secretory virulence factors, further highlighting their significance in microbial pathogenesis.

Interestingly, BEVs exhibit dual functions in microbial infections. On one hand, they facilitate cell-to-cell communication, biofilm formation, and virulence factor dissemination, promoting the establishment and persistence of infections. On the other hand, BEVs can impede early-stage biofilm formation, disperse mature biofilms, and reduce virulence, serving as a mechanism for bacterial survival and adaptation.

Researchers at Pukyong National University discuss BEVs’ composition and roles in microbial infections and shed light on their intricate involvement in biofilm development and virulence modulation. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial for developing effective strategies to combat bacterial infections, including the development of novel therapeutics aimed at inhibiting biofilm formation and virulence factor production.

Bacterial extracellular vesicles represent a fascinating aspect of bacterial biology with significant implications for human health. By unraveling the complex interplay between BEVs, biofilm formation, and virulence in microbial pathogens, researchers are paving the way for innovative approaches to combatting bacterial infections and developing more targeted antimicrobial therapies. As our understanding of BEVs continues to evolve, so too will our ability to harness their potential for improving clinical outcomes and public health.

Jeong GJ, Khan F, Tabassum N, Cho KJ, Kim YM. (2024) Bacterial extracellular vesicles: modulation of biofilm formation and virulence. Acta Biomaterialia [Epub ahead of print]. [article]

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