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Volume 51, Number 2, April 2018

Phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system components positively regulate Klebsiella biofilm formation 

Yu-Tze Horng, Chi-Jen Wang, Wen-Ting Chung, Huei-Jen Chao, Yih-Yuan Chen, Po-Chi Soo


Background and purpose: 

Klebsiella pneumoniae is one of the leading causes of device-related infections (DRIs), which are associated with attachment of bacteria to these devices to form a biofilm. The latter is composed of not only bacteria but also extracellular polymeric substances (EPSes) consisting of extracellular DNAs, polysaccharides, and other macromolecules. The phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP):carbohydrate phosphotransferase system (PTS) regulates diverse processes of bacterial physiology. In the genome of K. pneumoniae MGH 78578, we found an uncharacterized enzyme II complex homolog of PTS: KPN00353 (EIIA homolog), KPN00352 (EIIB homolog), and KPN00351 (EIIC homolog). The aim of this study was to characterize the potential physiological role of KPN00353, KPN00352, and KPN00351 in biofilm formation by K. pneumoniae. 



We constructed the PTS mutants and recombinant strains carrying the gene(s) of PTS. The recombinant K. pneumoniae strain overexpressing KPN00353–KPN00352–KPN00351 produced more extracellular matrix than did the vector control according to transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Judging by quantification of biofilm formation, of extracellular DNA (eDNA), and of capsular polysaccharide, the recombinant strain overexpressing KPN00353-KPN00352-KPN00351 produced more biofilm and capsular polysaccharide after overnight culture and more eDNA in the log phase as compared to the vector control. 



The genes, KPN00353–KPN00352–KPN00351, encode a putative enzyme II complex in PTS and positively regulate biofilm formation by enhancing production of eDNA and capsular polysaccharide in K. pneumoniae. Five proteins related to chaperones, to the citric acid cycle, and to quorum sensing are upregulated by the KPN00353–KPN00352–KPN00351 system. 


Key words:

Klebsiella, PTS, Biofilm, eDNA, Polysaccharide