Transcriptome analyses and biofilm-forming characteristics of a clonal Pseudomonas aeruginosa from the cystic fibrosis lung

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Transmissible Pseudomonas aeruginosa clones potentially pose a serious threat to cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The AES-1 clone has been found to infect up to 40 % of patients in five CF centres in eastern Australia. Studies were carried out on clonal and non-clonal (NC) isolates from chronically infected CF patients, and the reference strain PAO1, to gain insight into the properties of AES-1. The transcriptomes of AES-1 and NC isolates, and of PAO1, grown planktonically and as a 72 h biofilm were compared using PAO1 microarrays. Microarray data were validated using real-time PCR. Overall, most differentially expressed genes were downregulated. AES-1 differentially expressed bacteriophage genes, novel motility genes, and virulence and quorum-sensing-related genes, compared with both PAO1 and NC. AES-1 but not NC biofilms significantly downregulated aerobic respiration genes compared with planktonic growth, suggesting enhanced anaerobic/microaerophilic growth by AES-1. Biofilm measurement showed that AES-1 formed significantly larger and thicker biofilms than NC or PAO1 isolates. This may be related to expression of the gene PA0729, encoding a biofilm-enhancing bacteriophage, identified by PCR in all AES-1 but few NC isolates (n=42). Links with the Liverpool epidemic strain included the presence of PA0729 and the absence of the bacteriophage gene cluster PA0632–PA0639. No common markers were found with the Manchester strain. No particular differentially expressed gene in AES-1 could definitively be ascribed a role in its infectivity, thus increasing the likelihood that AES-1 infectivity is multi-factorial and possibly involves novel genes. This study extends our understanding of the transcriptomic and genetic differences between clonal and NC strains of P. aeruginosa from CF lung.

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