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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