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Res Microbiol. 2011 Sep;162(7):680-8. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2011.04.014. Epub 2011 Apr 30.

Modulation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa surface-associated group behaviors by individual amino acids through c-di-GMP signaling.

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Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, North College St., Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


To colonize the cystic fibrosis lung, Pseudomonas aeruginosa establishes sessile communities referred to as biofilms. Although the signaling molecule c-di-GMP governs the transition from motile to sessile growth, the environmental signal(s) required to modulate biofilm formation remain unclear. Using relevant in vivo concentrations of the 19 amino acids previously identified in cystic fibrosis sputum, we demonstrated that arginine, ornithine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine and tyrosine robustly promoted biofilm formation in vitro. Among the seven biofilm-promoting amino acids, only arginine also completely repressed the ability of P. aeruginosa to swarm over semi-solid surfaces, suggesting that arginine may be an environmental cue favoring a sessile lifestyle. Mutating two documented diguanylate cyclases required for biofilm formation (SadC and RoeA) reduced biofilm formation and restored swarming motility on arginine-containing medium. Growth on arginine increased the intracellular levels of c-di-GMP, and this increase was dependent on the SadC and RoeA diguanylate cyclases. Strains mutated in sadC, roeA or both also showed a reduction in biofilm formation when grown with the other biofilm-promoting amino acids. Taken together, these results suggest that amino acids can modulate biofilm formation and swarming motility, at least in part, by controlling the intracellular levels of c-di-GMP.

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