A mechanism for interspecies competition and virulence in Pseudomonas aeruginosa-containing polymicrobial infections
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Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a ubiquitous bacterium that is commonly isolated from soil and water. Additionally, this bacterium can cause infections in individuals with compromised immune systems and in those with underlying debilitating conditions. Individuals with cystic fibrosis, burn wounds, AIDS and diabetes are more likely to being infected by P. aeruginosa than healthy individuals. In individuals with CF, there is a marked increase in the accumulation of lung mucus that serves as a source of nutrition for P. aeruginosa and other bacterial species resulting in chronic and often fatal infections. While CF lung infections are initially caused by more than one species of bacteria, over time P. aeruginosa emerges as the dominant species. P. aeruginosa also causes chronic infections in association with other bacteria in wounds. Microbes within these infections are engaged in complex interactions with each other. Often, these interactions are synergistic resulting in infections that are recalcitrant to antimicrobial therapy. While many studies have documented the occurrence of synergistic polymicrobial infections, little is known about the molecular mechanisms prevailing in these infections. Interestingly, production of virulence factors by P. aeruginosa has been shown to correlate with the presence of specific nutrients in their growth environment. Expanding on the idea of available nutrients affecting virulence, I demonstrate the ability of N-Acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) and GlcNAc-containing polymers such as peptidoglycan to induce production of virulence factors in P. aeruginosa. Peptidoglycan shed by Gram-positive bacteria acts as a cue for P. aeruginosa in polymicrobial environments, to enhance production of virulence factors. In the context of a polymicrobial infection, this results in enhanced pathogenesis. Here, I provide insights into mechanisms influencing such interspecies interactions between the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and S.aureus.