Project Title

Cyclic-di-GMP-binding Proteins Regulate Acinetobacter Baumannii Motility

Authors' Affiliations

Gabriel Smith, Department of Health Sciences, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Garrett Reynolds, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Dr. Erik Petersen, Department of Health Sciences, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Location

Culp Room 217

Start Date

4-6-2022 10:45 AM

End Date

4-6-2022 11:00 AM

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Health Sciences

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Erik Petersen

Classification of First Author

Undergraduate Student

Competition Type

Non-Competitive

Type

Boland Symposium

Project's Category

Microbiology

Abstract or Artist's Statement

Abstract

Acinetobacter baumannii is a prevalent nosocomial where infections are typically secondary infections to patients that already have an infection or other source of being immunocompromised. Like many other infectious bacteria, A. baumannii is increasingly considered a multi-drug resistant pathogen. This eliminates the ability to treat A. baumannii infections with traditional antibiotics, hence the need for another method of treating A. baumannii. This research study was designed to find a way to affect the survival of A. baumannii such that it can be applied to a hospital setting to prevent further infections to immunocompromised patients. One mechanism potentially used by A. baumannii to persist on hospital surfaces is through the use of the bacterial second messenger cyclic-di-GMP (c-di-GMP). This nucleotide signal is regulated in response to environmental conditions, and then activates c-di-GMP-binding proteins that induce phenotypic changes. I hypothesized that by deleting these c-di-GMP-binding proteins that it will produce measurable differences in phenotype like biofilm formation, motility, and desiccation survival. Reducing phenotypes such as these may alter A. baumannii’s ability to persist on hospital surfaces, and potentially lead to future surface eradication. A. baumannii encodes two potential c-di-GMP-binding proteins of particular interest, one that contains a sole PilZ domain and another that pairs a PilZ domain with a hydrolase domain. PilZ domains bind c-di-GMP within a conserved binding site, regulating the conformational structure of the protein, and are named for the first studied PilZ domain within the pilus-associated PilZ protein. Pili are used in pilus-mediated motility and surface attachment, and they are A. baumannii’s primary method of motility due to not having flagellum. I hypothesized that by removing these c-di-GMP-binding proteins, I would interrupt the c-di-GMP signaling that might regulate motility. I am testing two A. baumannii strains: 5075, a recent military hospital isolate and 17978, an older lab strain. A notable difference between these two strains is that 5075 demonstrates twitching motility where it utilizes type IV pili, but 17978 demonstrates swarming motility that has unknown mechanisms. Both c-di-GMP-binding proteins were tested for their role in twitching or swarming motility of the respective strains. I found that swarming motility of 17978 is regulated by both c-di-GMP-binding proteins. While I am still generating the deletion strain for the c-di-GMP-binding hydrolase enzyme, the sole PilZ domain protein is also required for twitching motility in the 5075 strain. These results suggest c-di-GMP regulates both forms of motility in A. baumannii. Future plans include determining the role of the c-di-GMP-binding hydrolase enzyme in twitching motility and identifying the role that these proteins play through binding of c-di-GMP.

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Apr 6th, 10:45 AM Apr 6th, 11:00 AM

Cyclic-di-GMP-binding Proteins Regulate Acinetobacter Baumannii Motility

Culp Room 217

Abstract

Acinetobacter baumannii is a prevalent nosocomial where infections are typically secondary infections to patients that already have an infection or other source of being immunocompromised. Like many other infectious bacteria, A. baumannii is increasingly considered a multi-drug resistant pathogen. This eliminates the ability to treat A. baumannii infections with traditional antibiotics, hence the need for another method of treating A. baumannii. This research study was designed to find a way to affect the survival of A. baumannii such that it can be applied to a hospital setting to prevent further infections to immunocompromised patients. One mechanism potentially used by A. baumannii to persist on hospital surfaces is through the use of the bacterial second messenger cyclic-di-GMP (c-di-GMP). This nucleotide signal is regulated in response to environmental conditions, and then activates c-di-GMP-binding proteins that induce phenotypic changes. I hypothesized that by deleting these c-di-GMP-binding proteins that it will produce measurable differences in phenotype like biofilm formation, motility, and desiccation survival. Reducing phenotypes such as these may alter A. baumannii’s ability to persist on hospital surfaces, and potentially lead to future surface eradication. A. baumannii encodes two potential c-di-GMP-binding proteins of particular interest, one that contains a sole PilZ domain and another that pairs a PilZ domain with a hydrolase domain. PilZ domains bind c-di-GMP within a conserved binding site, regulating the conformational structure of the protein, and are named for the first studied PilZ domain within the pilus-associated PilZ protein. Pili are used in pilus-mediated motility and surface attachment, and they are A. baumannii’s primary method of motility due to not having flagellum. I hypothesized that by removing these c-di-GMP-binding proteins, I would interrupt the c-di-GMP signaling that might regulate motility. I am testing two A. baumannii strains: 5075, a recent military hospital isolate and 17978, an older lab strain. A notable difference between these two strains is that 5075 demonstrates twitching motility where it utilizes type IV pili, but 17978 demonstrates swarming motility that has unknown mechanisms. Both c-di-GMP-binding proteins were tested for their role in twitching or swarming motility of the respective strains. I found that swarming motility of 17978 is regulated by both c-di-GMP-binding proteins. While I am still generating the deletion strain for the c-di-GMP-binding hydrolase enzyme, the sole PilZ domain protein is also required for twitching motility in the 5075 strain. These results suggest c-di-GMP regulates both forms of motility in A. baumannii. Future plans include determining the role of the c-di-GMP-binding hydrolase enzyme in twitching motility and identifying the role that these proteins play through binding of c-di-GMP.