Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important nosocomial opportunistic human pathogen and a major cause of chronic lung infections in individuals with cystic fibrosis. Serious infections by this organism are often treated with a combination of aminoglycosides and semi-synthetic penicillins. Subinhibitory concentrations of antibiotics are now being recognized for their role in microbial persistence and the development of antimicrobial resistance, two very important clinical phenomena. An extensive screen of a P. aeruginosa PAO1 luciferase gene fusion library was performed to identify genes that were differentially regulated during exposure to subinhibitory gentamicin. It was demonstrated that subinhibitory concentrations of gentamicin and tobramycin induced a set of genes that are likely to affect the interaction of P. aeruginosa with host cells, including the gene encoding Lon protease, which is known to play a major role in protein quality control. Studies with a Ion mutant compared to its parent and a complemented strain indicated that this protein was essential for biofilm formation and motility in P. aeruginosa.
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