Microbial biofilms are particularly resistant to antimicrobial therapies. These surface-attached communities are protected against host defenses and pharmacotherapy by a self-produced matrix that surrounds and fortifies them. Recent proteomic evidence also suggests that some bacteria, including the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, undergo modifications within a biofilm that make them uniquely resistant compared to their planktonic (free-living) counterparts. This study examines 50 proteins in the resistance subproteome of both surface-associated and free-living P. aeruginosa PAO1 over three time points. Proteins were grouped into categories based on their roles in antimicrobial: (i) binding, (ii) eﬄux, (iii) resistance, and (iv) susceptibility. In addition, the extracellular outer membrane vesicle-associated proteome is examined and compared between the two growth modes. We show that in whole cells between 12-24% of the proteins are present at significantly different abundance levels over time, with some proteins being unique to a specific growth mode; however, the total abundance levels in the four categories remain consistent. In contrast, marked differences are seen in the protein content of the outer membrane vesicles, which contain a greater number of drug-binding proteins in vesicles purified from late-stage biofilms. These results show how the method of analysis can impact the interpretation of proteomic data (i.e., individual proteins vs. systems), and highlight the advantage of using protein-based methods to identify potential antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in extracellular sample components. Furthermore, this information has the potential to inform the development of specific antipseudomonal therapies that quench possible drug-sequestering vesicle proteins. This strategy could serve as a novel approach for combating the high-level of antimicrobial resistance in P. aeruginosa biofilms.
Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa; antimicrobial resistance; bacterial biofilms; outer membrane vesicles; proteomics.