Article

Conjugative Plasmid Transfer and Adhesion Dynamics in an Escherichia coli Biofilm

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.95). 09/2009; 75(21):6783-91. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00974-09
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A conjugative plasmid from the catheter-associated urinary tract infection strain Escherichia coli MS2027 was sequenced and annotated. This 42,644-bp plasmid, designated pMAS2027, contains 58 putative genes and is most closely related to plasmids belonging to incompatibility group X (IncX1). Plasmid pMAS2027 encodes two important virulence factors: type 3 fimbriae and a type IV secretion (T4S) system. Type 3 fimbriae, recently found to be functionally expressed in E. coli, played an important role in biofilm formation. Biofilm formation by E. coli MS2027 was specifically due to expression of type 3 fimbriae and not the T4S system. The T4S system, however, accounted for the conjugative ability of pMAS2027 and enabled a non-biofilm-forming strain to grow as part of a mixed biofilm following acquisition of this plasmid. Thus, the importance of conjugation as a mechanism to spread biofilm determinants was demonstrated. Conjugation may represent an important mechanism by which type 3 fimbria genes are transferred among the Enterobacteriaceae that cause device-related infections in nosocomial settings.

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