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Molecular response of Escherichia coli adhering onto nanoscale topography

Loris Rizzello, Antonio Galeone, Giuseppe Vecchio, Virgilio Brunetti, Stefania Sabella and Pier Paolo Pompa*

Author Affiliations

Center for Bio-Molecular Nanotechnologies, Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia@UniLe, Via Barsanti, Arnesano, Lecce, 73010, Italy

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:575  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-575

Published: 18 October 2012


Bacterial adhesion onto abiotic surfaces is an important issue in biology and medicine since understanding the bases of such interaction represents a crucial aspect in the design of safe implant devices with intrinsic antibacterial characteristics. In this framework, we investigated the effects of nanostructured metal substrates on Escherichia coli adhesion and adaptation in order to understand the bio-molecular dynamics ruling the interactions at the interface. In particular, we show how highly controlled nanostructured gold substrates impact the bacterial behavior in terms of morphological changes and lead to modifications in the expression profile of several genes, which are crucially involved in the stress response and fimbrial synthesis. These results mainly demonstrate that E. coli cells are able to sense even slight changes in surface nanotopography and to actively respond by activating stress-related pathways. At the same time, our findings highlight the possibility of designing nanoengineered substrates able to trigger specific bio-molecular effects, thus opening the perspective of smartly tuning bacterial behavior by biomaterial design.

Bacteria; Nanotopography; Adhesion; Molecular response