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Introduction. In cystic fibrosis patients, Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) can cause serious pulmonary chronic infections thanks in part to the ability to form biofilm, matrix rich in exopolysaccharides. In Bcc grown in the planktonic state, the main exopolysaccharide is cepacian while in biofilm its presence is controversial. Methods and Results. Two clinical isolates, named BTS7 and BTS2, were studied. BTS7 produces abundant cepacian but not much biofilm (quantified by colorimetric method).At least two of the genes involved in cepacian biosynthesis are not necessary for biofilm production as two BTS7 derivatives, bceB and bceQ knocked out by transposon mutagenesis, produce biofilm levels comparable to the wild-type. BTS2 sinthesyzes cepacian only if cultured on a specific medium. It has been colonizing a patient for almost ten years, showing a significant reduction of biofilm production during this period. This reduction did not appear together with the lack of factors required for the initial adhesion to the surface, or to differences in some of the Bcc genes involved in biofilm formation. Moreover, sequencing of its bce locus revealed a bceX gene, absent in BTS7, coding for a trascriptional regulator. Its product may negatively regulate the production of cepacian but not the one of other polysaccharides, promoting the formation of biofilm. Conclusions. Cepacian seems to be marginal in the production of biofilm.The reduced ability to produce biofilm of BTS2 suggests possible gene mutations occurred over time. Using custom arrays we will compare the gene expression of the BTS2 isolates, to identify the genes responsible for the observed phenotypic changes.
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