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J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015;25(2-3):209-25. doi: 10.1159/000375498. Epub 2015 Jul 9.

Biofilm Growth of Escherichia coli Is Subject to cAMP-Dependent and cAMP-Independent Inhibition.

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Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados.


We established that Escherichia coli strain 15 (ATCC 9723) produces both curli and cellulose, and forms robust biofilms. Since this strain is wild type with respect to the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS), it is an ideal strain in which to investigate the effects of the PTS on the biofilm growth of E. coli. We began by looking into the effects of PTS and non-PTS sugars on the biofilm growth of this strain. All the sugars tested tended to activate biofilm growth at low concentrations but to inhibit biofilm growth at high concentrations. Acidification of the medium was an inhibitory factor in the absence of buffer, but buffering to prevent a pH drop did not prevent the inhibitory effects of the sugars. The concentration at which inhibition set in varied from sugar to sugar. For most sugars, cyclic (c)AMP counteracted the inhibition at the lowest inhibitory concentrations but became ineffective at higher concentrations. Our results suggest that cAMP-dependent catabolite repression, which is mediated by the PTS in E. coli, plays a role in the regulation of biofilm growth in response to sugars. cAMP-independent processes, possibly including Cra, also appear to be involved, in addition to pH effects.

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