The ferric yersiniabactin uptake receptor FyuA is required for efficient biofilm formation by urinary tract infectious Escherichia coli in human urine

Microbiology (Reading). 2008 Jan;154(Pt 1):167-175. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2007/011981-0.


Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common infection in patients with indwelling urinary catheters, and bacterial biofilm formation is a major problem in this type of infection. Escherichia coli is responsible for the large majority of UTIs. Free iron is strictly limited in the human urinary tract and there is fierce competition between the host and infectious bacteria for this essential metal. Urinary tract infectious E. coli have highly efficient mechanisms of iron acquisition, one of which is the yersiniabactin system. The fyuA gene, encoding the yersiniabactin receptor, is one of the most upregulated genes in biofilm; it was upregulated 63-fold in the E. coli UTI strain VR50. FyuA was found to be highly important for biofilm formation in iron-poor environments such as human urine. Mutants in fyuA show aberrant biofilm formation and the cells become filamentous; a VR50fyuA mutant showed a 92 % reduction in biofilm formation in urine flow-cell chambers compared with the wild-type. The FyuA/yersiniabactin system is known to be important for virulence. Here we demonstrate a direct link between FyuA and biofilm formation in iron-poor environments. We also show that the availability of iron greatly influences UTI strains' ability to form biofilm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Escherichia coli / cytology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Male
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*
  • Up-Regulation
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Urine / microbiology*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • FyuA protein, E coli
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Iron