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© 2017 American Chemical Society. Biofilm formation by pathogenic Burkholderia species is a serious complication as it renders the bacteria resistant to antibiotics and host defenses. Using B. thailandensis, we report here a novel redox-sensitive member of the multiple antibiotic resistance regulator (MarR) protein family, BifR, which represses biofilm formation. BifR is encoded as part of the emrB-bifR operon; emrB-bifR is divergent to ecsC, which encodes a putative LasA protease. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, LasA has been implicated in virulence by contributing to cleavage of elastase. BifR repressed the expression of ecsC and emrB-bifR, and expression was further repressed under oxidizing conditions. BifR bound two sites in the intergenic region between ecsC and emrB-bifR with nanomolar affinity under both reducing and oxidizing conditions; however, oxidized BifR formed a disulfide-linked dimer-of-dimers, a covalent linkage that was absent in BifR-C104A in which the redox-active cysteine was replaced with alanine. BifR also repressed an operon encoding enzymes required for synthesis of phenazine antibiotics, which function as alternate respiratory electron receptors, and inactivation of bifR resulted in enhanced biofilm formation. Taken together, our data suggest that BifR functions to control LasA production and expression of genes involved in biofilm formation, in part by regulating synthesis of alternate electron acceptors that promote survival in the oxygen-limiting environment of a biofilm. The correlation between increased repression of emrB-bifR under oxidative conditions and the formation of a covalently linked BifR dimer-of-dimers suggests that BifR may modulate gene activity in response to cellular redox state.

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