Temperature-Regulated Microcolony Formation by Burkholderia pseudomallei Requires pilA and Enhances Association with Cultured Human Cells
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Burkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of melioidosis, a potentially fatal disease that is endemic to Northern Australia and Southeast Asia and is acquired from soil or water. Adherence of B. pseudomallei 08 to cultured cells increases dramatically following prior growth at 30àor less compared to that following prior growth at 37î Here, we show that this occurs almost entirely as the result of microcolony formation (bacterium-bacterium interactions) following growth at 27àbut not at 37ì which considerably enhances bacterial association with eukaryotic cells. Further, we demonstrate that the type IVA pilin-encoding gene, pilA, is essential for microcolony development by B. pseudomallei 08, and thus optimum association with eukaryotic cells, but is not required for direct adherence (bacterium-cell interactions). In contrast, although the B. pseudomallei genome sequence strain, K96243, also contains transcriptionally active pilA, microcolony formation rarely occurs following growth at either 27àor 37àand cell association occurs significantly less than with strain 08. Analysis of pilA transcription in 08 identified that pilA is dramatically upregulated under microcolony-forming conditions, viz., growth at low temperature, and association with eukaryotic cells; the pattern of transcription of pilA in K96243 differed from that in 08. Our study also suggests that biofilm formation by B. pseudomallei 08 and K96243 on polyvinylchloride is not mediated by pilA. Adherence and microcolony formation, and pilA transcription, vary between strains, consistent with known genomic variation in B. pseudomallei, and these phenotypes may be relevant to colonization from the environment.
Infection and Immunity