Role of the GGDEF protein family in Salmonella cellulose biosynthesis and biofilm formation

Mol Microbiol. 2004 Oct;54(1):264-77. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2004.04269.x.


Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is capable of producing cellulose as the main exopolysaccharide compound of the biofilm matrix. It has been shown for Gluconacetobacter xylinum that cellulose biosynthesis is allosterically regulated by bis-(3',5') cyclic diguanylic acid, whose synthesis/degradation depends on diguanylate cyclase/phosphodiesterase enzymatic activities. A protein domain, named GGDEF, is present in all diguanylate cyclase/phosphodiesterase enzymes that have been studied to date. In this study, we analysed the molecular mechanisms responsible for the failure of Salmonella typhimurium strain SL1344 to form biofilms under different environmental conditions. Using a complementation assay, we were able to identify two genes, which can restore the biofilm defect of SL1344 when expressed from the plasmid pBR328. Based on the observation that one of the genes, STM1987, contains a GGDEF domain, and the other, mlrA, indirectly controls the expression of another GGDEF protein, AdrA, we proceeded on a mutational analysis of the additional GG[DE]EF motif containing proteins of S. typhimurium. Our results demonstrated that MlrA, and thus AdrA, is required for cellulose production and biofilm formation in LB complex medium whereas STM1987 (GGDEF domain containing protein A, gcpA) is critical for biofilm formation in the nutrient-deficient medium, ATM. Insertional inactivation of the other six members of the GGDEF family (gcpB-G) showed that only deletion of yciR (gcpE) affected cellulose production and biofilm formation. However, when provided on plasmid pBR328, most of the members of the GGDEF family showed a strong dominant phenotype able to bypass the need for AdrA and GcpA respectively. Altogether, these results indicate that most GGDEF proteins of S. typhimurium are functionally related, probably by controlling the levels of the same final product (cyclic di-GMP), which include among its regulatory targets the cellulose production and biofilm formation of S. typhimurium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Cellulose / metabolism*
  • Culture Media
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Multigene Family
  • Mutation
  • Salmonella typhimurium / classification
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics
  • Salmonella typhimurium / growth & development
  • Salmonella typhimurium / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Culture Media
  • Cellulose