Mucin-Pseudomonas aeruginosa interactions promote biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance

Mol Microbiol. 2006 Jan;59(1):142-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04941.x.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that causes chronic lung infections in people suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). In CF airways, P. aeruginosa forms surface-associated communities called biofilms. Compared with free-swimming cultures, biofilms resist clearance by the host immune system and display increased resistance to antimicrobial agents. In this study we developed a technique to coat surfaces with molecules that are abundant in CF airways in order to investigate their impact on P. aeruginosa biofilm development. We found that P. aeruginosa biofilm development proceeds differently on surfaces coated with the glycoprotein mucin compared with biofilm development on glass and surfaces coated with actin or DNA. Biofilms formed on mucin-coated surfaces developed large cellular aggregates and had increased tolerance to the antibiotic tobramycin compared with biofilms grown on glass. Analysis of selected mutant backgrounds in conjunction with time-lapse microscopy revealed that surface-associated motility was blocked on the mucin surface. Furthermore, our data suggest that a specific adhesin-mucin interaction immobilizes the bacterium on the surface. Together, these experiments suggest that mucin, which may serve as an attachment surface in CF airways, impacts P. aeruginosa biofilm development and function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biofilms*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Mucins / metabolism*
  • Propylamines / metabolism
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / cytology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism*
  • Silanes / metabolism
  • Surface Properties
  • Tobramycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • FlgK protein, Bacteria
  • Mucins
  • Propylamines
  • Silanes
  • 3-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane
  • Tobramycin