Role of energy metabolism in conversion of nonmucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa to the mucoid phenotype

J. M. Terry, S. E. Pina, S. J. Mattingly

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45 Scopus citations


Phosphatidylcholine, the major component of lung surfactant, when supplied as the sole source of phosphate for Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1, resulted in conversion of as much as 2% of the population to the mucoid phenotype under continuous culture conditions over a 24-day culture period. In addition, growth in phosphatidylcholine resulted in the highest yields of extracellular alginate compared with other environmental conditions. Iron limitation, another environmental condition relevant to the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis, also resulted in conversion to mucoid. Since both conditions suggested the likelihood of an energy-deprived growth environment as a common variable, the effect of direct inhibition of energy generation by N,N'- dicyclohexylcarbodiimide or gramicidin on the conversion of nonmucoid P. aeruginosa to the mucoid phenotype was examined. Both inhibitors resulted in mucoid subpopulations (0.5 and 0.8%, respectively). Severe energy stress imposed by the combination of phosphate limitation and N,N'- dicyclohexylcarbodiimide treatment resulted in conversion of 55% of the population to mucoidy during a 7-day growth period. A growth advantage of the mucoid over the nonmucoid phenotype was observed under severe nutrient deprivation by growth on unsupplemented Noble agar or in a 1/2,500 dilution of a chemically defined medium. These results clearly demonstrate a significant role for the energy state of the cell in conversion to mucoid and in selection for the mucoid phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1329-1335
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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