Journal of medical microbiology

Characterization of 17 chaperone-usher fimbriae encoded by Proteus mirabilis reveals strong conservation.

PMID 24809384


Proteus mirabilis is a Gram-negative enteric bacterium that causes complicated urinary tract infections, particularly in patients with indwelling catheters. Sequencing of clinical isolate P. mirabilis HI4320 revealed the presence of 17 predicted chaperone-usher fimbrial operons. We classified these fimbriae into three groups by their genetic relationship to other chaperone-usher fimbriae. Sixteen of these fimbriae are encoded by all seven currently sequenced P. mirabilis genomes. The predicted protein sequence of the major structural subunit for 14 of these fimbriae was highly conserved (≥ 95% identity), whereas three other structural subunits (Fim3A, UcaA and Fim6A) were variable. Further examination of 58 clinical isolates showed that 14 of the 17 predicted major structural subunit genes of the fimbriae were present in most strains (>85%). Transcription of the predicted major structural subunit genes for all 17 fimbriae was measured under different culture conditions designed to mimic conditions in the urinary tract. The majority of the fimbrial genes were induced during stationary phase, static culture or colony growth when compared to exponential-phase aerated culture. Major structural subunit proteins for six of these fimbriae were detected using MS of proteins sheared from the surface of broth-cultured P. mirabilis, demonstrating that this organism may produce multiple fimbriae within a single culture. The high degree of conservation of P. mirabilis fimbriae stands in contrast to uropathogenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica, which exhibit greater variability in their fimbrial repertoires. These findings suggest there may be evolutionary pressure for P. mirabilis to maintain a large fimbrial arsenal.