Thermoregulation of biofilm formation in burkholderia pseudomallei is disrupted by mutation of a putative diguanylate cyclase

Brooke A. Plumley, Kevin H. Martin, Grace I. Borlee, Nicole L. Marlenee, Mary N. Burtnick, Paul J. Brett, David P. AuCoin, Richard A. Bowen, Herbert P. Schweizer, Bradley R. Borlee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Burkholderia pseudomallei, a tier 1 select agent and the etiological agent of melioidosis, transitions from soil and aquatic environments to infect a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. During the transition from an environmental saprophyte to a mammalian pathogen, B. pseudomallei encounters and responds to rapidly changing environmental conditions. Environmental sensing systems that control cellular levels of cyclic di-GMP promote pathogen survival in diverse environments. Cyclic di-GMP controls biofilm production, virulence factors, and motility in many bacteria. This study is an evaluation of cyclic di-GMP-associated genes that are predicted to metabolize and interact with cyclic di-GMP as identified from the annotated genome of B. pseudomallei 1026b. Mutants containing transposon disruptions in each of these genes were characterized for biofilm formation and motility at two temperatures that reflect conditions that the bacteria encounter in the environment and during the infection of a mammalian host. Mutants with transposon insertions in a known phosphodiesterase (cdpA) and a predicted hydrolase (Bp1026b_I2285) gene exhibited decreased motility regardless of temperature. In contrast, the phenotypes exhibited by mutants with transposon insertion mutations in a predicted diguanylate cyclase gene (Bp1026b_II2523) were strikingly influenced by temperature and were dependent on a conserved GG(D/E)EF motif. The transposon insertion mutant exhibited enhanced biofilm formation at 37°C but impaired biofilm formation at 30°C. These studies illustrate the importance of studying behaviors regulated by cyclic di-GMP under varied environmental conditions in order to better understand cyclic di-GMP signaling in bacterial pathogens. IMPORTANCE This report evaluates predicted cyclic di-GMP binding and metabolic proteins from Burkholderia pseudomallei 1026b, a tier 1 select agent and the etiologic agent of melioidosis. Transposon insertion mutants with disruptions in each of the genes encoding these predicted proteins were characterized in order to identify key components of the B. pseudomallei cyclic di-GMP-signaling network. A predicted hydrolase and a phosphodiesterase that modulate swimming motility were identified, in addition to a diguanylate cyclase that modulates biofilm formation and motility in response to temperature. These studies warrant further evaluation of the contribution of cyclic di-GMP to melioidosis in the context of pathogen acquisition from environmental reservoirs and subsequent colonization, dissemination, and persistence within the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00780-16
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofilm
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • Cyclic di-GMP
  • Diguanylate cyclase
  • Motility
  • Phosphodiesterase
  • Second messenger

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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