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PLoS Genet. 2014 Jul 24;10(7):e1004518. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004518. eCollection 2014 Jul.

Requirements for Pseudomonas aeruginosa acute burn and chronic surgical wound infection.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences, Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Center for Infectious Disease, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States of America.
Department of Surgery, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas, United States of America.

Erratum in

  • PLoS Genet. 2014 Oct;10(10):e1004743.


Opportunistic infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be acute or chronic. While acute infections often spread rapidly and can cause tissue damage and sepsis with high mortality rates, chronic infections can persist for weeks, months, or years in the face of intensive clinical intervention. Remarkably, this diverse infectious capability is not accompanied by extensive variation in genomic content, suggesting that the genetic capacity to be an acute or a chronic pathogen is present in most P. aeruginosa strains. To investigate the genetic requirements for acute and chronic pathogenesis in P. aeruginosa infections, we combined high-throughput sequencing-mediated transcriptome profiling (RNA-seq) and genome-wide insertion mutant fitness profiling (Tn-seq) to characterize gene expression and fitness determinants in murine models of burn and non-diabetic chronic wound infection. Generally we discovered that expression of a gene in vivo is not correlated with its importance for fitness, with the exception of metabolic genes. By combining metabolic models generated from in vivo gene expression data with mutant fitness profiles, we determined the nutritional requirements for colonization and persistence in these infections. Specifically, we found that long-chain fatty acids represent a major carbon source in both chronic and acute wounds, and P. aeruginosa must biosynthesize purines, several amino acids, and most cofactors during infection. In addition, we determined that P. aeruginosa requires chemotactic flagellar motility for fitness and virulence in acute burn wound infections, but not in non-diabetic chronic wound infections. Our results provide novel insight into the genetic requirements for acute and chronic P. aeruginosa wound infections and demonstrate the power of using both gene expression and fitness profiling for probing bacterial virulence.

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