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J Bacteriol. 2013 Apr;195(8):1637-44. doi: 10.1128/JB.02190-12. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

AmrZ modulates Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm architecture by directly repressing transcription of the psl operon.

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Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains recovered from chronic pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis patients are frequently mucoid. Such strains express elevated levels of alginate but reduced levels of the aggregative polysaccharide Psl; however, the mechanistic basis for this regulation is not completely understood. Elevated pslA expression was observed in an amrZ null mutant and in strains expressing a DNA-binding-deficient AmrZ. AmrZ is a transcription factor that positively regulates twitching motility and alginate synthesis, two phenotypes involved in P. aeruginosa biofilm development. AmrZ bound directly to the pslA promoter in vitro, and molecular analyses indicate that AmrZ represses psl expression by binding to a site overlapping the promoter. Altered expression of amrZ in nonmucoid strains impacted biofilm structure and architecture, as structured microcolonies were observed with low AmrZ production and flat biofilms with amrZ overexpression. These biofilm phenotypes correlated with Psl levels, since we observed elevated Psl production in amrZ mutants and lower Psl production in amrZ-overexpressing strains. These observations support the hypothesis that AmrZ is a multifunctional regulator mediating transition of P. aeruginosa biofilm infections from colonizing to chronic biofilms through repression of the psl operon while activating the algD operon.

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