Journal of bacteriology, 01 October 2016, Vol.198(19), pp.2619-30
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI), a commensal of the human nasopharynx (hNP), is a common cause of biofilm-associated diseases of the respiratory tract. However, NTHI biofilm biology at the average hNP temperature, i.e., 34°C, has not been well studied. Here we grew NTHI biofilms at 34°C and 37°C, to evaluate relative biofilm growth, expression, and function of the type IV pilus (Tfp), a critical adhesin important for NTHI biofilm formation. The kinetics and regulation of Tfp expression in NTHI biofilms are unclear, especially at 34°C. Tfp expression, as estimated by pilA promoter activity, was distributed throughout the biofilms, with a unique pattern that was dependent on temperature, time in culture, and position within the maturing biofilm. Tfp expression was required for the formation of the characteristic tower structures of NTHI biofilms and was significantly upregulated in NTHI biofilms formed at 34°C versus 37°C. This increase correlated with significantly greater twitching motility at 34°C than at 37°C. Treatment with antisera targeting the major subunit of Tfp (PilA) significantly inhibited NTHI biofilm formation at both temperatures, confirming the importance of this critical adhesin in biofilm formation. Additionally, treatment of preestablished biofilms with antisera against PilA significantly decreased biofilm biomass and mean thickness at both temperatures. These results demonstrated a pivotal role for Tfp in NTHI biofilm formation and stability at the temperature of the hNP, and they underscore the utility of PilA as a vaccine candidate for treatment and/or prevention of NTHI biofilm-associated diseases. NTHI is an important cause of chronic respiratory tract infections, including otitis media, chronic rhinosinusitis, and exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis. The chronic and recurrent nature of these diseases is attributed to the presence of bacterial biofilms, which are highly resistant to antimicrobials. We characterized NTHI biofilm growth and expression of PilA, the major subunit of the Tfp, at the temperature of the hNP, which is the commensal habitat of NTHI. Our results expand the current understanding of the role of Tfp during biofilm formation and maturation at the temperature of both the hNP and the middle ear, and they strengthen support for PilA as a vaccine candidate for the prevention and treatment of NTHI biofilm-associated diseases.
Temperature ; Biofilms -- Growth & Development ; Fimbriae, Bacterial -- Metabolism ; Haemophilus Influenzae -- Classification ; Nasopharynx -- Physiology
View this record in MEDLINE/PubMed