Understanding the control of Pseudomonas aeruginosa alginate synthesis and the prospects for management of chronic infections in cystic fibrosis

Mol Microbiol. 2005 Apr;56(2):309-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04552.x.


Decades of research have been dedicated to the study of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a Gram-negative, environmental bacterium that secretes the exopolysaccharide alginate during chronic lung infection of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Although P. aeruginosa utilizes a variety of factors to establish a successful infection in the lungs of CF patients, alginate has stood out as one of the best-studied prognostic indicators of chronic lung infection. While the genetics, biosynthesis and regulation of alginate are well understood, questions still remain concerning its role in biofilm development and its potential as a therapeutic target. The purpose of this review is to provide a brief summary of alginate biosynthesis and regulation, and to highlight recent discoveries in the areas of alginate production, biofilm formation and vaccine design. This information is placed in context with a proposed P. aeruginosa infectious pathway, highlighting avenues for the use of existing therapies as well as the potential for novel agents to reduce or eliminate chronic infections in CF patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alginates / metabolism*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lung Diseases / complications
  • Lung Diseases / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / metabolism*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism*


  • Alginates