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Infect Immun. 2010 Apr;78(4):1482-94. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01356-09. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Vibrio cholerae phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system control of carbohydrate transport, biofilm formation, and colonization of the germfree mouse intestine.

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Division of Infectious Disease, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The bacterial phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system (PTS) is a highly conserved phosphotransfer cascade whose components modulate many cellular functions in response to carbohydrate availability. Here, we further elucidate PTS control of Vibrio cholerae carbohydrate transport and activation of biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces. We then define the role of the PTS in V. cholerae colonization of the adult germfree mouse intestine. We report that V. cholerae colonizes both the small and large intestines of the mouse in a distribution that does not change over the course of a month-long experiment. Because V. cholerae possesses many PTS-independent carbohydrate transporters, the PTS is not essential for bacterial growth in vitro. However, we find that the PTS is essential for colonization of the germfree adult mouse intestine and that this requirement is independent of PTS regulation of biofilm formation. Therefore, competition for PTS substrates may be a dominant force in the success of V. cholerae as an intestinal pathogen. Because the PTS plays a role in colonization of environmental surfaces and the mammalian intestine, we propose that it may be essential to successful transit of V. cholerae through its life cycle of pathogenesis and environmental persistence.

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