PelA Deacetylase Activity Is Required for Pel Polysaccharide Synthesis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
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The Pel polysaccharide serves as an intercellular adhesin for the formation and maintenance of biofilms in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pel biosynthesis requires the products of a seven-gene operon, pelA-pelG, all of which are necessary for Pel-dependent biofilm formation and Pel-related phenotypes. One of the genes, pelA, encodes a protein with a predicted polysaccharide deacetylase domain. In this work, the role of the putative deacetylase domain in Pel production was examined. We first established that purified recombinant PelA hydrolyzed the pseudosubstrate p-nitrophenyl acetate in vitro, and site-specific mutations of predicted deacetylase active-site residues reduced activity greater than 10-fold. Additionally, these mutants were deficient in Pel-dependent biofilm formation and wrinkly colony morphology in vivo. Subcellular fractionation experiments demonstrate that PelA localizes to both the membrane and periplasmic fractions. Finally, antiserum against the Pel polysaccharide was generated, and PelA deacetylase mutants do not produce Pel-reactive material. Taken together, these results suggest that the deacetylase activity of PelA is important for the production of the Pel polysaccharide.
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