Genetic and biochemical analyses of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa Psl exopolysaccharide reveal overlapping roles for polysaccharide synthesis enzymes in Psl and LPS production

Mol Microbiol. 2009 Aug;73(4):622-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06795.x. Epub 2009 Jul 29.


Exopolysaccharides contribute significantly to attachment and biofilm formation in the opportunisitc pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The Psl polysaccharide, which is synthesized by the polysaccharide synthesis locus (psl), is required for biofilm formation in non-mucoid strains that do not rely on alginate as the principal biofilm polysaccharide. In-frame deletion and complementation studies of individual psl genes revealed that 11 psl genes, pslACDEFGHIJKL, are required for Psl production and surface attachment. We also present the first structural analysis of the psl-dependent polysaccharide, which consists of a repeating pentasaccharide containing d-mannose, d-glucose and l-rhamnose: [See text]. In addition, we identified the sugar nucleotide precursors involved in Psl generation and demonstrated the requirement for GDP-d-mannose, UDP-d-glucose and dTDP-l-rhamnose in Psl production and surface attachment. Finally, genetic analyses revealed that wbpW restored Psl production in a pslB mutant and pslB promoted A-band LPS synthesis in a wbpW mutant, indicating functional redundancy and overlapping roles for these two enzymes. The structural and genetic data presented here provide a basis for further investigation of the Psl proteins and potential roles for Psl in the biology and pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biofilms*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Lipopolysaccharides / biosynthesis*
  • Multienzyme Complexes / genetics
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / enzymology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • WbpW protein, Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • exopolysaccharide, Pseudomonas