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Summary

Previously we discovered that OmpA of Escherichia coli increases biofilm formation on polystyrene surfaces (González Barrios et al., Biotechnol Bioeng, 93:188–200, 2006a). Here we show OmpA influences biofilm formation differently on hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces since it represses cellulose production which is hydrophilic. OmpA increased biofilm formation on polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl surfaces while it decreased biofilm formation on glass surfaces. Sand column assays corroborated that OmpA decreases attachment to hydrophilic surfaces. The ompA mutant formed sticky colonies, and the extracellular polysaccharide that caused stickiness was identified as cellulose. A whole-transcriptome study revealed that OmpA induces the CpxRA two-component signal transduction pathway that responds to membrane stress. CpxA phosphorylates CpxR and results in reduced csgD expression. Reduced CsgD production represses adrA expression and results in reduced cellulose production since CsgD and AdrA are responsible for 3,5-cyclic diguanylic acid and cellulose synthesis. Real-time polymerase chain reaction confirmed csgD and adrA are repressed by OmpA. Biofilm and cellulose assays with double deletion mutants adrA ompA, csgB ompA, and cpxR ompA confirmed OmpA decreased cellulose production and increased biofilm formation on polystyrene surfaces through CpxR and AdrA. Further evidence of the link between OmpA and the CpxRA system was that overproduction of OmpA disrupted the membrane and led to cell lysis. Therefore, OmpA inhibits cellulose production through the CpxRA stress response system, and this reduction in cellulose increases biofilm formation on hydrophobic surfaces.