Exploration of Ligand-receptor Binding and Mechanisms for Alginate Reduction and Phenotype Reversion by Mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Felicia N. Burns, Mercy A. Alila, Hewen Zheng, Pankaj D. Patil, Arizza Chiara S. Ibanez, Yan Yeung Luk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Bacteria in general can develop a wide range of phenotypes under different conditions and external stresses. The phenotypes that reside in biofilms, overproduce exopolymers, and show increased motility often exhibit drug tolerance and drug persistence. In this work, we describe a class of small molecules that delay and inhibit the overproduction of alginate by a non-swarming mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Among these molecules, selected benzophenone-derived alkyl disaccharides cause the mucoid bacteria to swarm on hydrated soft agar gel and revert the mucoid to a nonmucoid phenotype. The sessile (biofilm) and motile (swarming) phenotypes are controlled by opposing signaling pathways with high and low intracellular levels of bis-(3’,5’)-cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (cdG), respectively. As our molecules control several of these phenotypes, we explored a protein receptor, pilin of the pili appendages, that is consistent with controlling these bioactivities and signaling pathways. To test this binding hypothesis, we developed a bacterial motility-enabled binding assay that uses the interfacial properties of hydrated gels and bacterial motility to conduct label-free ligand-receptor binding studies. The structure-activity correlation and receptor identification reveal a plausible mechanism for reverting mucoid to nonmucoid phenotypes by binding pili appendages with ligands capable of sequestering and neutralizing reactive oxygen species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1975-1985
Number of pages11
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 17 2021


  • alkyl disaccharides
  • bacterial motility
  • benzophenone
  • hydrated gels
  • ligand receptor binding
  • type IV pili

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploration of Ligand-receptor Binding and Mechanisms for Alginate Reduction and Phenotype Reversion by Mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this