Transcriptional Profiling Identifies the Metabolic Phenotype of Gonococcal Biofilms
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Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the etiologic agent of gonorrhea, is frequently asymptomatic in women, often leading to chronic infections. One factor contributing to this may be biofilm formation. N. gonorrhoeae can form biofilms on glass and plastic surfaces. There is also evidence that biofilm formation may occur during natural cervical infection. To further study the mechanism of gonococcal biofilm formation, we compared transcriptional profiles of N. gonorrhoeae biofilms to planktonic profiles. Biofilm RNA was extracted from N. gonorrhoeae 1291 grown for 48 h in continuous-flow chambers over glass. Planktonic RNA was extracted from the biofilm runoff. In comparing biofilm with planktonic growth, 3.8% of the genome was differentially regulated. Genes that were highly upregulated in biofilms included aniA, norB, and ccp. These genes encode enzymes that are central to anaerobic respiratory metabolism and stress tolerance. Downregulated genes included members of the nuo gene cluster, which encodes the proton-translocating NADH dehydrogenase. Furthermore, it was observed that aniA, ccp, and norB insertional mutants were attenuated for biofilm formation on glass and transformed human cervical epithelial cells. These data suggest that biofilm formation by the gonococcus may represent a response that is linked to the control of nitric oxide steady-state levels during infection of cervical epithelial cells.
Infection and Immunity
Proteomics and Intermolecular Interactions (excl. Medical Proteomics)