Nitric oxide and iron signaling cues have opposing effects on biofilm development in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Journal Article
Appl Environ Microbiol, 2018
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While both iron and nitric oxide (NO) are redox-active environmental signals that have been shown to regulate biofilm development, their interaction and roles in regulating biofilms have not been fully elucidated. In this study, exposure of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms to exogenous NO inhibited the expression of iron acquisition related genes and the production of the siderophore pyoverdine. Further, supplementation of the culture medium with high levels of iron (100 µM) counteracted NO induced biofilm dispersal by promoting the rapid attachment of planktonic cells. In the presence of iron, biofilms were found to disperse transiently to NO, while the freshly dispersed cells reattached rapidly within 15 min. This effect was not due to scavenging of NO by free iron, but rather involved a cellular response induced by iron that led to elevated production of the exopolysaccharide Psl. Interestingly, most Psl remained on the substratum after treatment with NO, suggesting that dispersal involved changes in the interactions between Psl and P. aeruginosa cells. Taken together, our results suggest that iron and NO regulate biofilm development via different pathways, both of which include regulation of Psl-mediated attachment. Moreover, the addition of an iron chelator worked synergistically with NO in the dispersal of biofilms.IMPORTANCE: Nitric oxide (NO), which induces biofilm dispersal, is a promising strategy for biofilm control in both clinical and industrial contexts. However, competing environmental signals may reduce the efficacy of NO. The results presented here suggest that the presence of iron represents one such environmental cue that could antagonize the activity of NO as a biofilm dispersing agent. Based on this understanding, we developed a strategy to enhance dispersal by combining NO with an iron scavenging agent. Overall, this study links two important environmental signals, iron and NO, with their roles in biofilm development and suggests new ways for improving the use of NO in biofilm control strategies.
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