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PLoS One. 2019 Jan 4;14(1):e0210082. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210082. eCollection 2019.

Analysis of colony phase variation switch in Acinetobacter baumannii clinical isolates.

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The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) and The Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Institute of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, University of Health Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan.


Reversible switching between opaque and translucent colony formation is a novel feature of Acinetobacter baumannii that has been associated with variations in the cell morphology, surface motility, biofilm formation, antibiotic resistance and virulence. Here, we assessed a number of phenotypic alterations related to colony switching in A. baumannii clinical isolates belonging to different multi-locus sequence types. Our findings demonstrated that these phenotypic alterations were mostly strain-specific. In general, the translucent subpopulations of A. baumannii produced more dense biofilms, were more piliated, and released larger amounts of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). In addition, the translucent subpopulations caused reduced fertility of Caenorhabditis elegans. When assessed for effects on the immune response in RAW 264.7 macrophages, the OMVs isolated from opaque subpopulations of A. baumannii appeared to be more immunogenic than the OMVs from the translucent form. However, also the OMVs from the translucent subpopulations had the potential to evoke an immune response. Therefore, we suggest that OMVs may be considered for development of new immunotherapeutic treatments against A. baumannii infections.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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