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Published February 2, 2018 | public
Journal Article

Probing Phenazine Electron Transfer and Retention in Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Biofilms


The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa forms metabolically stratified biofilms. Redox-active phenazine metabolites shuttle metabolic electrons from the oxygen depleted biofilm interior to the oxygen saturated exterior, facilitating anoxic survival. We are testing the hypothesis that phenazine retention and/or charge transfer through the biofilm matrix are mediated by extracellular DNA (eDNA), which is the most abundant polymer in the P. aeruginosa matrix and is known to provide structural integrity to the biofilm. Specifically, we are growing biofilms on electrode arrays and performing in vitro studies of phenazine interactions with DNA. Biofilm experiments show that conductivity through the matrix is mediated by sequential electron transfer between phenazine molecules. Transferring electrode grown biofilms to fresh liquid medium demonstrates that some phenazines are retained tightly in the biofilm matrix, while others rapidly diffuse away. The retention of different phenazines corresponds to their affinity for DNA in vitro, consistent with the idea that some phenazines might bind the eDNA in the biofilm. We are testing whether phenazines bound to DNA can also mediate charge transfer. Collectively, these experiments are helping us better understand how P. aeruginosa utilizes its self-produced extracellular electron shuttles to survive biofilm oxidant limitation, and are opening up new perspectives on the role(s) that eDNA may play in the biofilm matrix.

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© 2018 Elsevier Inc. Available online 6 February 2018.

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