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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1999 Sep 1;178(1):169-75.

Involvement of the Cpx signal transduction pathway of E. coli in biofilm formation.

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Laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire des Microorganismes et des Interactions Cellulaires, CNRS UMR 5577, Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon, Villeurbanne, France.


In a genetic screening directed to identify genes involved in biofilm formation, mutations in the cpxA gene were found to reduce biofilm formation by affecting microbial adherence to solid surfaces. This effect was detected in Escherichia coli K12 as well as in E. coli strains isolated from patients with catheter-related bacteremia. We show that the negative effect of the cpxA mutation on biofilm formation results from a decreased transcription of the curlin encoding csgA gene. The effect of the cpxA mutation could not be observed in cpxR- mutants, suggesting that they affect the same regulatory pathway. The cpxA101 mutation abolishes cpxA phosphatase activity and results in the accumulation of phosphorylated CpxR. Features of the strain carrying the cpxA101 mutation are a reduced ability to form biofilm and low levels of csgA transcription. Our results indicate that the cpxA gene increases the levels of csgA transcription by dephosphorylation of CpxR, which acts as a negative regulator at csgA. Thus, we propose the existence of a new signal transduction pathway involved in the adherence process in addition to the EnvZ-OmpR two-component system.

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