The stringent response promotes biofilm dispersal in Pseudomonas putida

Carlos Díaz-Salazar, Patricia Maria Calero Valdayo, Rocio Espinosa Portero, Alicia Jimenez Fernandez, Lisa Wirebrand, María G. Velasco-Domínguez, Aroa López- Sánchez, Victoria Shingler, Fernando Govantes

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Biofilm dispersal is a genetically programmed response enabling bacterial cells to exit the biofilm in response to particular physiological or environmental conditions. In Pseudomonas putida biofilms, nutrient starvation triggers c-di-GMP hydrolysis by phosphodiesterase BifA, releasing inhibition of protease LapG by the c-di-GMP effector protein LapD, and resulting in proteolysis of the adhesin LapA and the subsequent release of biofilm cells. Here we demonstrate that the stringent response, a ubiquitous bacterial stress response, is accountable for relaying the nutrient stress signal to the biofilm dispersal machinery. Mutants lacking elements of the stringent response – (p)ppGpp sythetases [RelA and SpoT] and/or DksA – were defective in biofilm dispersal. Ectopic (p)ppGpp synthesis restored biofilm dispersal in a ∆relA ∆spoT mutant. In vivo gene expression analysis showed that (p)ppGpp positively regulates transcription of bifA, and negatively regulates transcription of lapA and the lapBC, and lapE operons, encoding a LapA-specific secretion system. Further in vivo and in vitro characterization revealed that the PbifA promoter is dependent on the flagellar σ factor FliA, and positively regulated by ppGpp and DksA. Our results indicate that the stringent response stimulates biofilm dispersal under nutrient limitation by coordinately promoting LapA proteolysis and preventing de novo LapA synthesis and secretion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18055
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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