The Gram-negative pathogen, Acinetobacter baumannii has emerged as a global nosocomial health threat affecting the majority of hospitals in the U.S. and abroad. The redox protein thioredoxin has been shown to play several roles in modulation of cellular functions affecting various virulence factors in Gram-negative pathogens. This study aims to explore the role of thioredoxin-A protein (TrxA) in A. baumannii virulence. We determined that deletion of the TrxA gene did not significantly affect resistance to environmental stressors such as temperature, salt, and pH. However, TrxA was critical for survival in the presence of elevated levels of hydrogen peroxide. Lack of TrxA was associated with decreased expression of type IV pili related genes and an inability to undergo normal twitching motility. Interestingly, the TrxA-null mutant was able to form biofilms better than the wildtype (WT) and was observed to be significantly less virulent than the WT in a pulmonary infection model. These results are supportive of thioredoxin playing a key role in A. baumannii virulence.
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