Sticky fingers make icky biofilms in E. coli superbugs
What is it about?
Superbug E.coli ST131 has emerged as a pandemic lineage of important multidrug resistant pathogens worldwide. It has become a major cause of antibiotic-resistant urinary tract and bloodstream infections. Despite many epidemiological studies, no has reported specific ST131 biofilm-promoting factors. Here we have shown biofilm formation by diverse ST131 isolates under different biologically-relevant conditions, including urine from healthy adult women. We have identified type 1 fimbriae as the critical determinant for biofilm formation by ST131. Type 1 fimbriae are finger-like projections on E. coli surface and are essential for sticking to human tissues to initiate infection. We also found that if we block the fimbriae with specific inhibitors, ST131 can no longer form biofilms.
Why is it important?
Superbugs are becoming extremely difficult to treat clinically due to their growing repertoire of antibiotic-resistance factors. This problem is further compounded in biofilms where these pathogens form tightly-knit communities that are hard to eliminate even in antibiotic-susceptible populations. Biofilms can form within the body and also on invasive surgical instruments, in-dwelling medical implants and diagnostic devices. This is the first study of superbug ST131 biofilm formation under biologically relevant conditions and paves the way for the application of specific adhesion-inhibitors in treating drug resistant ST131 biofilm infections.
The following have contributed to this page: Dr Sohinee Sarkar