Biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa: fimbrial cup gene clusters are controlled by the transcriptional regulator MvaT

J Bacteriol. 2004 May;186(9):2880-90. doi: 10.1128/JB.186.9.2880-2890.2004.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic bacterial pathogen which poses a major threat to long-term-hospitalized patients and individuals with cystic fibrosis. The capacity of P. aeruginosa to form biofilms is an important requirement for chronic colonization of human tissues and for persistence in implanted medical devices. Various stages of biofilm formation by this organism are mediated by extracellular appendages, such as type IV pili and flagella. Recently, we identified three P. aeruginosa gene clusters that were termed cup (chaperone-usher pathway) based on their sequence relatedness to the chaperone-usher fimbrial assembly pathway in other bacteria. The cupA gene cluster, but not the cupB or cupC cluster, is required for biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces. In this study, we identified a gene (mvaT) encoding a negative regulator of cupA expression. Such regulatory control was confirmed by several approaches, including lacZ transcriptional fusions, Northern blotting, and transcriptional profiling using DNA microarrays. MvaT also represses the expression of the cupB and cupC genes, although the extent of the regulatory effect is not as pronounced as with cupA. Consistent with this finding, mvaT mutants exhibit enhanced biofilm formation. Although the P. aeruginosa genome contains a highly homologous gene, mvaU, the repression of cupA genes is MvaT specific. Thus, MvaT appears to be an important regulatory component within a complex network that controls biofilm formation and maturation in P. aeruginosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Biofilms*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Multigene Family*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology
  • Trans-Activators / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • MvaT protein, Pseudomonas
  • Trans-Activators