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Bartonella henselae (Bh) is a Gram-negative rod transmitted to humans by a scratch from the common house cat. Infection of humans with Bh can result in a range of clinical diseases including lymphadenopathy observed in cat-scratch disease and more serious disease from persistent bacteremia. It is a common cause of blood-culture negative endocarditis as the bacterium is capable of growing as aggregates, and forming biofilms on infected native and prosthetic heart valves. The aggregative growth requires a trimeric autotransporter adhesin (TAA) called Bartonella adhesin A (BadA). TAAs are found in all Bartonella species and many other Gram-negative bacteria. Using Bh Houston-1, Bh Houston-1 ∆badA and Bh Houston-1 ∆badA/pNS2PTrc badA (a partial complement of badA coding for a truncated protein of 741 amino acid residues), we analyze the role of BadA in adhesion and biofilm formation. We also investigate the role of environmental factors such as temperature on badA expression and biofilm formation. Real-time cell adhesion monitoring and electron microscopy show that Bh Houston-1 adheres and forms biofilm more efficiently than the Bh Houston-1 ∆badA. Deletion of the badA gene significantly decreases adhesion, the first step in biofilm formation in vitro, which is partially restored in Bh Houston-1 ∆badA/pNS2PTrc badA. The biofilm formed by Bh Houston-1 includes polysaccharides, proteins, and DNA components and is susceptible to enzymatic degradation of these components. Furthermore, both pH and temperature influence both badA expression and biofilm formation. We conclude that BadA is required for optimal adhesion, agglutination and biofilm formation.


Udoka Okaro, Ryan Green, Subhra Mohapatra, Burt Anderson. The trimeric autotransporter adhesin BadA is required for in vitro biofilm formation by Bartonella henselae. NPJ biofilms and microbiomes. 2019;5(1):10

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PMID: 30886729

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