Characterization of Acinetobacter baumannii biofilm associated components
Brossard, Kari A.
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Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative aerobic coccobaccillus that is a major cause of nosocomial infections worldwide. Infected individuals may develop pneumonia, urinary tract, wound, and other infections that are associated with the use of indwelling medical devices such as catheters and mechanical ventilation. Treatment is difficult because many A. baumannii isolates have developed multi-drug resistance and the bacterium can persist on abiotic surfaces. Persistence and resistance may be due to formation of biofilms, which leads to long-term colonization, evasion of the host immune system and resistance to treatment with antibiotics and disinfectants. While biofilms are complex multifaceted structures, two bacterial components that have been shown to be important in formation and stability are exopolysaccharides (EPS) and the biofilm-associated protein (Bap). An EPS, poly-β-1,6-N-acetylglucosamine, PNAG, has been described for E. coli and S. epidermidis. PNAG acts as an intercellular adhesin. Production of this adhesin is dependent on the pga/icaABCD locus. We have identified a homologous locus in A. baumannii 307-0294 that is involved in production of an exopolysaccharide, recognized by an anti-PNAG antibody. We hypothesized that the A. baumannii pgaABCD locus plays a role in biofilm formation, and protection against host innate defenses and disinfectants suggesting that PNAG is a possible virulence factor for the organism. The first aim of this thesis will define the pgaABCD locus. We have previously identified Bap, a protein with similarity to those described for S. aureus and we have demonstrated that this protein is involved in maintaining the stability of biofilms on glass. We hypothesized that A. baumannii Bap plays a role in persistence and pathogenesis and is regulated by quorum sensing. In our second aim we will examine the role of Bap in attachment and biofilm formation on medically relevant surfaces and also determine if Bap is involved in epithelial cell surface attachment and invasion. Finally we will determine the effects of quorum sensing on the expression of Bap.