Pseudomonas needs calcium for motility!

This inference is reported in January 2010 PNAS by Dr. Matt Wolfgang and collaborators, and highlighted in the Spring issue of UNC’s Endeavors magazine...

This inference is reported in January 2010 PNAS by Dr. Matt Wolfgang and collaborators, and highlighted in the Spring issue of UNC’s Endeavors magazine. The crystal structure for a pilus-biogenesis factor from the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa was determined by Dr. Redinbo’s research group (UNC’s Depts of Chemistry and Biochemistry) and found to contain a binding site for a calcium atom. Microbiology graduate students, Kimberly Coggan and Ryan Heiniger in the Wolfgang laboratory, demonstrated, using genetic methods, that the presence or absence of a bound calcium atom in this type IV pilus complex critically regulates the surface mobility of this bacterium. Drs. Wolfgang and Redinbo suggest that calcium-dependent regulation of motility will likely apply to other human pathogenic bacteria and that interfering with this process may provide a new approach to controlling their diseases.