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Klebsiella pneumoniae can be found in environmental habitats as well as in hospital settings where it is commonly associated with nosocomial infections. One of the factors that contribute to virulence is its capacity to form biofilms on diverse biotic and abiotic surfaces. The second messenger Bis-(3’-5’)-cyclic dimeric GMP (c-di-GMP) is a ubiquitous signal in bacteria that controls biofilm formation as well as several other cellular processes. The cellular levels of this messenger are controlled by c-di-GMP synthesis and degradation catalyzed by diguanylate cyclase (DGC) and phophodiesterase (PDE) enzymes, respectively. Many bacteria contain multiple copies of these proteins with diverse organizational structure that highlight the complex regulatory mechanisms of this signaling network. This work was undertaken to identify DGCs and PDEs and analyze the domain structure of these proteins in K. pneumoniae.
A search for conserved GGDEF and EAL domains in three sequenced K. pneumoniae genomes showed that there were multiple copies of GGDEF and EAL containing proteins. Both single domain and hybrid GGDEF proteins were identified: 21 in K. pneumoniae Kp342, 18 in K. pneumoniae MGH 78578 and 17 in K. pneumoniae NTUH-K2044. The majority had only the GGDEF domain, most with the GGEEF motif, and hybrid proteins containing both GGDEF and EAL domains were also found. The I site for allosteric control was identified only in single GGDEF domain proteins and not in hybrid proteins. EAL-only proteins, containing either intact or degenerate domains, were also identified: 15 in Kp342, 15 in MGH 78578 and 10 in NTUH-K2044. Several input sensory domains and transmembrane segments were identified, which together indicate complex regulatory circuits that in many cases can be membrane associated.
The comparative analysis of proteins containing GGDEF/EAL domains in K. pneumoniae showed that most copies were shared among the three strains and that some were unique to a particular strain. The multiplicity of these proteins and the diversity of structural characteristics suggest that the c-di-GMP network in this enteric bacterium is highly complex and reflects the importance of having diverse mechanisms to control cellular processes in environments as diverse as soils or plants and clinical settings.