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Publications of the Week

Surfing Motility Is a Complex Adaptation Dependent on the Stringent Stress Response in Pseudomonas Aeruginosa LESB58

By April 13, 2020No Comments

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This week we profile a recent publication in PLOS Pathogens from the laboratory of Dr. Bob Hancock (pictured) at UBC.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

My research interests include small cationic peptides as novel antimicrobials and modulators of innate immunity, the development of novel treatments for antibiotic resistant infections, the systems biology of innate immunity, inflammatory diseases and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and antibiotic uptake and resistance.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

We previously discovered a new form of motility in the feared nosocomial and cystic fibrosis pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, named surfing motility. It happens on surfaces supplemented with mucin, which is the glycoprotein that lines the epithelial cells of co-called mucosal tissues, including the lining of the lung where Pseudomonas causes such problems (e.g. chronic lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis). In this paper we show that a cystic fibrosis epidemic strain LESB58, although poorly motile in broth, is able to surf reasonably well, and show that this behaviour, which would allow Pseudomonas to move rapidly across the surface of the lung, is controlled by a universal stress response termed stringent stress response. This has two profound implications: (1) Stringent stress response also controls virulence and antibiotic resistance and so these are to some extent coordinately regulated with surfing motility, and (2) we have previously shown that our synthetic anti-biofilm peptides specifically attack the second messenger nucleotide ppGpp that controls the stringent stress response PLoS Pathogens 10(5):e1004152, 2014; PLoS Pathogens 14(6):e1007084, 2018) providing a therapeutic strategy for targeting this important virulence related process.

What are the next steps for this research?

Developing our peptides for use in CF lung infections.

This work was funded by:

Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Canada Research Chairs.

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