The Catabolite Repressor Protein-Cyclic AMP Complex Regulates csgD and Biofilm Formation in Uropathogenic Escherichia coli

J Bacteriol. 2016 Nov 18;198(24):3329-3334. doi: 10.1128/JB.00652-16. Print 2016 Dec 15.


The extracellular matrix protects Escherichia coli from immune cells, oxidative stress, predation, and other environmental stresses. Production of the E. coli extracellular matrix is regulated by transcription factors that are tuned to environmental conditions. The biofilm master regulator protein CsgD upregulates curli and cellulose, the two major polymers in the extracellular matrix of uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) biofilms. We found that cyclic AMP (cAMP) regulates curli, cellulose, and UPEC biofilms through csgD The alarmone cAMP is produced by adenylate cyclase (CyaA), and deletion of cyaA resulted in reduced extracellular matrix production and biofilm formation. The catabolite repressor protein (CRP) positively regulated csgD transcription, leading to curli and cellulose production in the UPEC isolate, UTI89. Glucose, a known inhibitor of CyaA activity, blocked extracellular matrix formation when added to the growth medium. The mutant strains ΔcyaA and Δcrp did not produce rugose biofilms, pellicles, curli, cellulose, or CsgD. Three putative CRP binding sites were identified within the csgD-csgB intergenic region, and purified CRP could gel shift the csgD-csgB intergenic region. Additionally, we found that CRP binded upstream of kpsMT, which encodes machinery for K1 capsule production. Together our work shows that cAMP and CRP influence E. coli biofilms through transcriptional regulation of csgD IMPORTANCE The catabolite repressor protein (CRP)-cyclic AMP (cAMP) complex influences the transcription of ∼7% of genes on the Escherichia coli chromosome (D. Zheng, C. Constantinidou, J. L. Hobman, and S. D. Minchin, Nucleic Acids Res 32:5874-5893, 2004, Glucose inhibits E. coli biofilm formation, and ΔcyaA and Δcrp mutants show impaired biofilm formation (D. W. Jackson, J.W. Simecka, and T. Romeo, J Bacteriol 184:3406-3410, 2002, We determined that the cAMP-CRP complex regulates curli and cellulose production and the formation of rugose and pellicle biofilms through csgD Additionally, we propose that cAMP may work as a signaling compound for uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) to transition from the bladder lumen to inside epithelial cells for intracellular bacterial community formation through K1 capsule regulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms*
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP Receptor Protein / genetics
  • Cyclic AMP Receptor Protein / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli / physiology*


  • CsgD protein, E coli
  • Cyclic AMP Receptor Protein
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • crp protein, E coli
  • Cyclic AMP