Conjugative Plasmid Transfer and Adhesion Dynamics in an Escherichia Coli Biofilm

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Nov;75(21):6783-91. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00974-09. Epub 2009 Aug 28.


A conjugative plasmid from the catheter-associated urinary tract infection strain Escherichia coli MS2027 was sequenced and annotated. This 42,644-bp plasmid, designated pMAS2027, contains 58 putative genes and is most closely related to plasmids belonging to incompatibility group X (IncX1). Plasmid pMAS2027 encodes two important virulence factors: type 3 fimbriae and a type IV secretion (T4S) system. Type 3 fimbriae, recently found to be functionally expressed in E. coli, played an important role in biofilm formation. Biofilm formation by E. coli MS2027 was specifically due to expression of type 3 fimbriae and not the T4S system. The T4S system, however, accounted for the conjugative ability of pMAS2027 and enabled a non-biofilm-forming strain to grow as part of a mixed biofilm following acquisition of this plasmid. Thus, the importance of conjugation as a mechanism to spread biofilm determinants was demonstrated. Conjugation may represent an important mechanism by which type 3 fimbria genes are transferred among the Enterobacteriaceae that cause device-related infections in nosocomial settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Catheter-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Conjugation, Genetic*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Order
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Plasmids*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Virulence Factors
  • plastin

Associated data

  • GENBANK/FJ666132