Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.



Fast chemical force microscopy demonstrates that glycopeptidolipids define nanodomains of varying hydrophobicity on mycobacteria

Author affiliations

Abstract

Mycobacterium abscessus is an emerging multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogen causing severe lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. A remarkable trait of this mycobacterial species is its ability to form morphologically smooth (S) and rough (R) colonies. The S-to-R transition is caused by the loss of glycopeptidolipids (GPLs) in the outer layer of the cell envelope and correlates with an increase in cording and virulence. Despite the physiological and medical importance of this morphological transition, whether it involves changes in cell surface properties remains unknown. Herein, we combine recently developed quantitative imaging (QI) atomic force microscopy (AFM) with hydrophobic tips to quantitatively map the surface structure and hydrophobicity of M. abscessus at high spatiotemporal resolution, and to assess how these properties are modulated by the S-to-R transition and by treatment with an inhibitor of the mycolic acid transporter MmpL3. We discover that loss of GPLs leads to major modifications in surface hydrophobicity, without any apparent change in cell surface ultrastructure. While R bacilli are homogeneously hydrophobic, S bacilli feature unusual variations of nanoscale hydrophobic properties. These previously undescribed cell surface nanodomains are likely to play critical roles in bacterial adhesion, aggregation, phenotypic heterogeneity and transmission, and in turn in virulence and pathogenicity. Our study also suggests that MmpL3 inhibitors show promise in nanomedicine as chemotherapeutic agents to interfere with the highly hydrophobic nature of the mycobacterial cell wall. The advantages of QI-AFM with hydrophobic tips are the ability to map chemical and structural properties simultaneously and at high resolution, applicable to a wide range of biosystems.

Graphical abstract: Fast chemical force microscopy demonstrates that glycopeptidolipids define nanodomains of varying hydrophobicity on mycobacteria

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
20 Nov 2019
Accepted
02 Mar 2020
First published
21 Apr 2020

This article is Open Access

Nanoscale Horiz., 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Communication

Fast chemical force microscopy demonstrates that glycopeptidolipids define nanodomains of varying hydrophobicity on mycobacteria

A. Viljoen, F. Viela, L. Kremer and Y. F. Dufrêne, Nanoscale Horiz., 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C9NH00736A

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material.

Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

  • For reproduction of material from NJC:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
    [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
  • For reproduction of material from PPS:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.


Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements