Deficient Lipid A Remodeling by the arnB Gene Promotes Biofilm Formation in Antimicrobial Peptide Susceptible Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

PMID 29518324


Multidrug resistant bacteria possess various mechanisms that can sense environmental stresses such as antibiotics and antimicrobial peptides and rapidly respond to defend themselves. Two known defense strategies are biofilm formation and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) modification. Though LPS modifications are observed in biofilm-embedded bacteria, their effect on biofilm formation is unknown. Using biochemical and biophysical methods coupled with confocal microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy, we show that biofilm formation is promoted in a Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 strain with a loss of function mutation in the arnB gene. This loss of function prevents the addition of the positively charged sugar 4-amino-4-deoxy-l-arabinose to lipid A of LPS under restrictive magnesium conditions. The data reveal that the arnB mutant, which is susceptible to antimicrobial peptides, forms a biofilm that is more robust than that of the wild type. This is in line with the observations that the arnB mutant exhibits outer surface properties such as hydrophobicity and net negative charge that promote the formation of biofilms. Moreover, when grown under Mg2+ limitation, both the wild type and the arnB mutant exhibited a reduction in the level of membrane-bound polysaccharides. The data suggest that the loss of polysaccharides exposes the membrane and alters its biophysical properties, which in turn leads to more biofilm formation. In summary, we show for the first time that blocking a specific lipid A modification promotes biofilm formation, suggesting a trade-off between LPS remodeling and resistance mechanisms of biofilm formation.