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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Jul;72(7):5002-12.

Alteration of the rugose phenotype in waaG and ddhC mutants of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium DT104 is associated with inverse production of curli and cellulose.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, usa.


The rugose (also known as wrinkled or rdar) phenotype in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium DT104 Rv has been associated with cell aggregation and the ability, at low temperature under low-osmolarity conditions, to form pellicles and biofilms. Two Tn5 insertion mutations in genes that are involved in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) synthesis, ddhC (A1-8) and waaG (A1-9), of Rv resulted in diminished expression of colony rugosity. Scanning electron micrographs revealed that the ddhC mutant showed reduced amounts of extracellular matrix, while there was relatively more, profuse matrix production in the waaG mutant, compared to Rv. Both mutants appeared to produce decreased levels of curli, as judged by Western blot assays probed with anti-AgfA (curli) antibodies but, surprisingly, were observed to have increased amounts of cellulose relative to Rv. Comparison with a non-curli-producing mutant suggested that the alteration in curli production may have engendered the increased presence of cellulose. While both mutants had impaired biofilm formation when grown in rich medium with low osmolarity, they constitutively formed larger amounts of biofilms when the growth medium was supplemented with either glucose or a combination of glucose and NaCl. These observations indicated that LPS alterations may have opposing effects on biofilm formation in these mutants, depending upon either the presence or the absence of these osmolytes. The phenotypes of the waaG mutant were further confirmed in a constructed, nonpolar deletion mutant of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium LT2, where restoration to the wild-type phenotypes was accomplished by complementation. These results highlight the importance of an integral LPS, at both the O-antigen and core polysaccharide levels, in the modulation of curli protein and cellulose production, as well as in biofilm formation, thereby adding another potential component to the complex regulatory system which governs multicellular behaviors in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium.

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