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Environ Microbiol. 2012 Aug;14(8):1995-2005. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02753.x. Epub 2012 Apr 19.

Synthesis of multiple Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm matrix exopolysaccharides is post-transcriptionally regulated.

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State Key Laboratory of Microbial Resources, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.


Exopolysaccharide is a critical biofilm matrix component, yet little is known about how the synthesis of multiple exopolysaccharides is regulated. Pseudomonas aeruginosa can produce several biofilm matrix exopolysaccharides that include alginate, Psl and Pel. Here we demonstrated that AlgC, a key enzyme that provides sugar precursors for the synthesis of alginate and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) is also required for both Psl and Pel production. We showed that forced-synthesis of Psl in alginate-producing mucoid bacteria reduced alginate production but this was not due to transcription of the alginate biosynthesis-operon. Likewise, when either alginate or Psl were overproduced, levels of B-band LPS decreased. Induction of Pel resulted in a reduction of Psl levels. Because the effects of reduced exopolysaccharide synthesis when another is overproduced didn't appear to be regulated at the transcriptional level, this suggests that the biosynthesis pathways of Psl, Pel, alginate, and LPS compete for common sugar precursors. As AlgC is the only enzyme that provides precursors for each of these exopolysaccharides, we propose that AlgC is a key checkpoint enzyme that coordinates the total amount of exopolysaccharide biosynthesis by controlling sugar precursor pool. Our data also provide a plausible strategy that P.aeruginosa utilizes to modulate its biofilm matrix exopolysaccharides.

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