Adherent Invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) is a non-diarrhoeagenic intestinal E. coli patho type with a putativea etiological role in Crohn’s Disease (CD). AIEC pathogenes is ischaracterised by adhesion to, invasion of, and replication within intestinal epithelial cells and macrophages, and biofilm formation. Using a heterologous expression screen, we identified a gene in the AIEC LF82 genome encoding a protein which self-assembles into filaments in HeLa cells, which we hypothesised was a novel pilin or biofilm matrix component, designated bcmA (biofilm coupled to motility in AIEC). Using a crystal violet-based assay, we found LF82ΔbcmA have defective biofilm formation, which can be fully complemented by episomal bcmA expression. Microscopic analysis of LF82 biofilms demonstrated LF82ΔbcmA form patchy, sparse biofilms, and revealed an intracellular localisation for GFP-tagged bcmA, suggesting the protein is not a surface-exposed adhesin or biofilm matrix component. We therefore assessed the role of bcmA in flagellar-mediated motility and found that – despite displaying wild-type flagellar morphologies – LF82ΔbcmA have profound swimming and swarming defects. Work in a Caenorhabdit is elegans infection model suggests bcmA is not required for full virulence; however, preliminary evidence suggests LF82ΔbcmA have defective C. elegans gut colonisation. Taken together, our data demonstrates roles for bcmA in AIEC host colonisation via an undefined role in motility. bcmA is highly conserved among pathogenic gammaproteobacteria, including Salmonella Typhi, Shigella boydii and Klebsiella pneumoniae. This suggests bcmA may not only be significant for AIEC pathogenesis, but may also represent an important virulence determinant in several major gammaproteobacterial pathogens.


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