Identification of Gene Products Involved in Biofilm Production by Moraxella catarrhalis ETSU-9 In Vitro
AbstractIdentification of Gene Products Involved in Biofilm Production by Moraxella catarrhalis ETSU-9 In Vitro ▿ Melanie M. Pearson and Eric J. Hansen * Department of Microbiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75390-9048 ABSTRACT Moraxella catarrhalis ETSU-9 was subjected to random transposon insertion mutagenesis to identify genes encoding products involved in the ability of the organism to form biofilms in vitro. Screening of approximately 3,000 transposon insertion mutants in the crystal violet-based biofilm assay system yielded six mutants that exhibited greatly reduced abilities to form biofilms. Three of these mutants had transposon insertions in the uspA2H gene, which encodes a surface protein previously shown to be involved in the ability of M. catarrhalis to both attach to human cell lines in vitro and resist killing by normal human serum. Random insertion mutagenesis of the uspA2H gene, involving the introduction of a 15-nucleotide fragment encoding 5 amino acids, was used to attempt to identify the domain(s) necessary for biofilm formation. Most of these insertions adversely affected biofilm formation, whereas the abilities of these same mutants to attach to Chang conjunctival epithelial cells in vitro were usually not reduced. Gain-of-function experiments showed that introduction of the M. catarrhalis ETSU-9 uspA2H gene into Escherichia coli conferred biofilm formation ability on this recombinant strain. Two of the other three M. catarrhalis ETSU-9 transposon insertion mutants that had greatly reduced abilities to form biofilms were shown to have insertions in genes encoding products predicted to be directly or indirectly involved in cell wall metabolism.