Characterization of Surface-Active Biofilm Protein BslA in Self-Assembling Langmuir Monolayer at the Air-Water Interface

Wei Liu, Shanghao Li, Zhuguang Wang, Elsa C.Y. Yan, Roger M. Leblanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Biofilm is an extracellular matrix of bacteria and serves as a protective shield of bacterial communities. It is crucial for microbial growth and one of the leading causes of human chronic infections as well. However, the structures and molecular mechanism of biofilm formation remain largely unknown. Here, we examined a protein, BslA, expressed in the biofilms of Bacillus subtilis. We characterized the Langmuir monolayers of BslA at the air/water interface. Using techniques in surface chemistry and spectroscopy, we found that BslA forms a stable and robust Langmuir monolayer at the air/water interface. Our results show that the BslA Langmuir monolayer underwent two-stage elasticity in the solid state phase upon mechanical compression: one is possibly due to the intermolecular interaction and the other is likely due to both the intermolecular compulsion and the intramolecular distortion. The Langmuir monolayer of BslA shows abrupt changes in rigidities and elasticities at ∼25 mN/m. This surface pressure is close to the one at which BlsA saturates the air/water interface as a self-assembled film without mechanical compression, corresponding to a mean molecular area of ∼700 Å2 per molecule. Based on the results of surface UV-visible spectroscopy and infrared reflective-absorption spectroscopy, we propose that the BslA Langmuir monolayer carries intermolecular elasticity before ∼25 mN/m and both intermolecular and intramolecular elasticity after ∼25 mN/m. These results provide valuable insights into the understanding of biofilm-associated protein under high mechanical force, shedding light on further investigation of biofilm structure and functionalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7548-7555
Number of pages8
Issue number30
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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