Exopolysaccharide biosynthetic glycoside hydrolases can be utilized to disrupt and prevent Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms

Perrin Baker, Preston J. Hill, Brendan D. Snarr, Noor Alnabelseya, Matthew J. Pestrak, Mark J. Lee, Laura K. Jennings, John Tam, Roman A. Melnyk, Matthew R. Parsek, Donald C. Sheppard, Daniel J. Wozniak, P. Lynne Howell

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199 Scopus citations


Bacterial biofilms present a significant medical challenge because they are recalcitrant to current therapeutic regimes. A key component of biofilm formation in the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the biosynthesis of the exopolysaccharides Pel and Psl, which are involved in the formation and maintenance of the structural biofilm scaffold and protection against antimicrobials and host defenses. Given that the glycoside hydrolases PelAh and PslGh encoded in the pel and psl biosynthetic operons, respectively, are utilized for in vivo exopolysaccharide processing, we reasoned that these would provide specificity to target P. aeruginosa biofilms. Evaluating these enzymes as potential therapeutics, we demonstrate that these glycoside hydrolases selectively target and degrade the exopolysaccharide component of the biofilm matrix. PelAh and PslGh inhibit biofilm formation over a 24-hour period with a half maximal effective concentration (EC50) of 69.3 ± 1.2 and 4.1 ± 1.1 nM, respectively, and are capable of disrupting preexisting biofilms in 1 hour with EC50 of 35.7 ± 1.1 and 12.9 ± 1.1 nM, respectively. This treatment was effective against clinical and environmental P. aeruginosa isolates and reduced biofilm biomass by 58 to 94%. These noncytotoxic enzymes potentiated antibiotics because the addition of either enzyme to a sublethal concentration of colistin reduced viable bacterial counts by 2.5 orders of magnitude when used either prophylactically or on established 24-hour biofilms. In addition, PelAh was able to increase neutrophil killing by ∼50%. This work illustrates the feasibility and benefits of using bacterial exopolysaccharide biosynthetic glycoside hydrolases to develop novel antibiofilm therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1501632
JournalScience advances
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016


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