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Infect Immun. 2013 Oct;81(10):3770-80. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00647-13. Epub 2013 Jul 29.

Identification of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium genes regulated during biofilm formation on cholesterol gallstone surfaces.

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Center for Microbial Interface Biology, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, Department of Microbiology, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.


Salmonella spp. are able to form biofilms on abiotic and biotic surfaces. In vivo studies in our laboratory have shown that Salmonella can form biofilms on the surfaces of cholesterol gallstones in the gallbladders of mice and human carriers. Biofilm formation on gallstones has been demonstrated to be a mechanism of persistence. The purpose of this work was to identify and evaluate Salmonella sp. cholesterol-dependent biofilm factors. Differential gene expression analysis between biofilms on glass or cholesterol-coated surfaces and subsequent quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) revealed that type 1 fimbria structural genes and a gene encoding a putative outer membrane protein (ycfR) were specifically upregulated in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium biofilms grown on cholesterol-coated surfaces. Spatiotemporal expression of ycfR and FimA verified their regulation during biofilm development on cholesterol-coated surfaces. Surprisingly, confocal and scanning electron microscopy demonstrated that a mutant of type 1 fimbria structural genes (ΔfimAICDHF) and a ycfR mutant showed increased biofilm formation on cholesterol-coated surfaces. In vivo experiments using Nramp1(+/+) mice harboring gallstones showed that only the ΔycfR mutant formed extensive biofilms on mouse gallstones at 7 and 21 days postinfection; ΔfimAICDHF was not observed on gallstone surfaces after the 7-day-postinfection time point. These data suggest that in Salmonella spp., wild-type type 1 fimbriae are important for attachment to and/or persistence on gallstones at later points of chronic infection, whereas YcfR may represent a specific potential natural inhibitor of initial biofilm formation on gallstones.

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