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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2004 Apr;48(4):1168-74.

Dynamics and spatial distribution of beta-lactamase expression in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Microbiology, Rigshospitalet, and Department of Bacteriology, Institute for Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. nbagge2000@yahoo.dk

Abstract

The development of resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics is a problem in the treatment of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis. The main resistance mechanism is high-level expression of the chromosomally encoded AmpC beta-lactamase of P. aeruginosa cells growing in biofilms. Several genes have been shown to influence the level of ampC expression, but little is known about the regulation of ampC expression in P. aeruginosa biofilms. To study the expression of ampC in P. aeruginosa biofilms, we constructed a reporter that consisted of the fusion of the ampC promoter to gfp(ASV) encoding an unstable version of the green fluorescent protein. In vitro biofilms of P. aeruginosa were exposed to the beta-lactam antibiotics imipenem and ceftazidime. Sub-MICs of imipenem significantly induced the monitor system of the biofilm bacteria in the peripheries of the microcolonies, but the centers of the microcolonies remained uninduced. However, the centers of the microcolonies were physiologically active, as shown by experiments with another monitor construction consisting of an arabinose-inducible promoter fused to gfp(ASV). The whole biofilm was induced in the presence of increased imipenem concentrations. Ceftazidime induced the monitor system of the biofilm bacteria as well, but only bacteria in the peripheries of the microcolonies were induced in the presence of even very high concentrations. The experiments illustrate for the first time the dynamic and spatial distributions of beta-lactamase induction in P. aeruginosa cells growing in biofilms. Thus, our experiments show that P. aeruginosa cells growing in biofilms constitute a heterogeneous population unit which may create different antibiotic-selective environments for the bacteria in the biofilm.

PMID:
15047517
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC375278
Free PMC Article
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