Phosphorylcholine stimulates capsule formation of phosphate-limited mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa

D. P. Krieg, J. A. Bass, S. J. Mattingly

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22 Scopus citations


Production of both alginic acid and lipopolysaccharide by a mucoid strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, SRM-3, was studied in a chemostat system during growth under nutrient-limited conditions chosen to reflect the chronic growth conditions in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. Since mucoid strains have been shown to elaborate extracellular proteases and phospholipase C, nitrogen and phosphate limitation were selected for analysis. A modified alginate-promoting medium containing either 1 mM glutamate or 0.05 mM K2HOP4 as limiting nutrient and doubling times of 1.6 to 15.7 h were used. Under nitrogen limitation, strain SRM-3 produced 1.4 mg of uronic acid per mg (dry weight) of cells at all doubling times studied. However, phosphate limitations resulted in the synthesis of only 0.4 mg of uronic acid per mg (dry weight) of cells. The role of phosphate in alginic acid polysaccharide production was further investigated by using phosphorylcholine, a product of phospholipase C activity on phosphatidylcholine, the major lung surfactant. Not only were mucoid cells capable of utilizing phosphorylcholine for growth, but a highly specific interaction occurred among phosphorylcholine, alginate, and whole cells, resulting in greatly enhanced culture viscosity. Electron micrographs showed the gradual formation of a capsule during growth on phosphorylcholine, indicating that the mucoid strain has the ability to utilize surfactant not only as a nutrient source but also for constructing a capsule with greatly enhanced adhesive properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-873
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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