[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biofilms are prevalent in diseases caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic and nosocomial pathogen. By a proteomic approach, we previously identified a hypothetical protein of P. aeruginosa (coded by the gene pA3731) that was accumulated by biofilm cells. We report here that a Delta pA3731 mutant is highly biofilm-defective as compared with the wild-type strain. Using a mouse model of lung infection, we show that the mutation also induces a defect in bacterial growth during the acute phase of infection and an attenuation of the virulence. The pA3731 gene is found to control positively the ability to swarm and to produce extracellular rhamnolipids, and belongs to a cluster of 4 genes (pA3729-pA3732) not previously described in P. aeruginosa. Though the protein PA3731 has a predicted secondary structure similar to that of the Phage Shock Protein, some obvious differences are observed compared to already described psp systems, e.g., this unknown cluster is monocistronic and no homology is found between the other proteins constituting this locus and psp proteins. As E. coli PspA, the amount of the protein PA3731 is enlarged by an osmotic shock, however, not affected by a heat shock. We consequently named this locus bac for biofilm-associated cluster.